Honors and awards
CMS leader in opioid epidemic awareness honored as one of Denver’s “40 under 40”
by Kate Alfano, CMS Communications Coordinator
Donald Stader, MD, an emergency physician, innovator and entrepreneur who works for CarePoint Healthcare and practices at Swedish Medical Center in Englewood, Colo., has been selected as one of the Denver Business Journal’s “40 under 40.” This honor recognizes 40 extraordinary metro Denverites under 40- years-old for their commitment to community and business leadership. In the award’s 22nd year, the journal received nearly 500 nominations for 259 individuals. Stader was recognized at the annual awards luncheon on March 21 and profiled in a special report on March 23.
At Swedish Medical Center, he serves as the associate medical director and emergency medicine section chief. Swedish Medical Center is a level-one trauma center, nationally recognized stroke center, cardiac cath center and burn center that sees approximately 60,000 Coloradans annually. Swedish Medical Center also holds the distinction of being the first Colorado emergency department to adopt the Alternatives to Opioids (ALTO) first approach for pain control, a program that Stader championed and implemented that is now being adopted across Colorado.
Stader holds a medical degree with honors from Baylor College of Medicine, where he was an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, and he completed an emergency medicine residency at Carolinas Medical Center. He serves on the Colorado chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) board of directors and chairs Colorado ACEP’s Opioid Task Force; was the editor-in-chief of Colorado ACEP’s 2017 Opioid Prescribing and Treatment Guidelines, which the Colorado Medical Society Board of Directors voted to adopt in September 2017; is an opioid clinical consultant for the Colorado Hospital Association; and served as CMS’ representative to the Colorado General Assembly’s bipartisan Opioid and Other Substance Use Disorders Interim Study Committee.
Stader is a renowned expert on the opioid epidemic, and a member of the Colorado Consortium on Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention. He has lectured locally and nationally on how to best confront the opioid epidemic. Stader and Colorado ACEP partnered with the Colorado Hospital Association to launch one of the largest emergency-department-based opioid reduction pilots in the nation. As the physician lead, he trained physicians in 11 emergency departments across Colorado. The pilot returned remarkable results: a 36 percent reduction in opioid administrations when compared to the same time period in 2016, which amounted to 35,000 fewer individual opioid administrations between the 2017 pilot and the 2016 baseline period.
In addition to medicine, Stader has a passion for the arts. He works as a film producer and was the creative force behind an emergency medicine documentary. In an interview for the profile, he named this as his proudest professional achievement: “In residency, I led the creation of the documentary ‘24/7/365: The Evolution of Emergency Medicine.’ It won a regional Emmy Award, several Telly Awards and had a nice film festival run. It is an enduring tribute to many of my medical heroes, whom I was able to meet and learn from during the course of our documentary production.”
He also prides himself on giving back to the community, and has founded two Colorado-based non-profit organizations: The Emergency Medical Minute and The Last Words Project. The Emergency Medical Minute provides free online emergency medical education to improve the medical knowledge and care of doctors, nurses, paramedics and health professionals working in emergency medicine. The Last Words Project allows individuals with terminal conditions or dangerous vocations to speak “their last words on their terms” by recording messages for their loved ones.
In the interview he identified the No. 1 quality for professional growth as “imagination,” which “helps solve problems, create opportunities, build new partnerships and create a better, more just world.”
His advice for others looking to grow professionally: “Find work you are passionate about, with people you like to spend time with. If you find a company or vocation that has these two ingredients, you’ll be able to invest yourself and your talents completely and have fun doing it.”
Posted in: Colorado Medicine