Medical Marijuana

With the legalization of medical marijuana in the state of Ohio, many questions have been asked about Signature Health's policy on medical marijuana and use with clients.

Medical marijuana is a challenging topic. It is true that Cannabinoids also known as THC has provided some benefit for...

* Treating illness occurring with cancer chemotherapy

* Increasing appetite in diseases such as AIDS

* Reducing seizure burden in epilepsy

These benefits were determined from a study with controlled amounts (purity & formula) of Cannabinoids in a safe setting.

In contrast, the current setting for medical marijuana in Ohio allows for the distribution of herbal products lacking standard purity, dosing, or formulation but in the absence of rigorous, controlled studies assessing safety and efficacy for specific conditions.

Currently there are no known benefits of medical marijuana in people suffering from or predisposed to psychiatric and substance use disorders. Signature Health will remain open to information on medical marijuana and evidence of marijuana products when they are safe, effective, and approved by Federal regulations.

What you need to know...Medical Marijuana is a complex issue with more risks than benefits

* As a Federally Qualified Health Center and an agency that works with federal programs Signature Health must comply with Federal laws

* Whether for medicinal or recreational use marijuana, is still considered illegal under Federal Law

* Signature Health providers will not prescribe, recommend, or distribute medical marijuana.

* Signature Health is and will remain a drug-free environment

Willoughby on-site Laboratory

Signature Health Medical Technologist John Sullivan observes specimens at the new clinical laboratory in Willoughby on Feb. 1.

Signature Health Medical Technologist John Sullivan observes specimens at the new clinical laboratory in Willoughby on Feb. 1. Tawana Roberts — The News-Herald
Signature Health Medical Technologist John Sullivan observes specimens at the new clinical laboratory in Willoughby on Feb. 1.
Signature Health Medical Technologist John Sullivan observes specimens at the new clinical laboratory in Willoughby on Feb. 1. Tawana Roberts — The News-Herald

Signature Health recently opened a new clinical laboratory in Willoughby that provides comprehensive testing and analysis.

Dr. Nancy Rodway, director of laboratory services and primary care, occupational and environmental physician, said the lab opened in late January and offers many benefits to the community.

Rodway, who is also the Lake County Health District medical director and a board-certified pathologist, said the lab will have a positive impact on the addiction crisis.

“We’ve been doing primarily drug testing, but we are using state-of-the-art drug testing instrumentation which is liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry and what that instrument does really is it identifies the footprint of the drug,” she said. “So I can within approximately 24-hour turnaround get a specimen of urine or blood and tell the ordering provider exactly what was in there.

“We’ve been open now for two weeks and we’re seeing some scary stuff in the urine because we test for 55 analytes. We see a lot of fentanyl, we see a lot of heroin we see some cocaine.“

Signature Health received funding from the Lake County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board to purchase some of the lab equipment.

The advanced lab equipment allows lab results ordered STAT — immediately to manage medical emergencies — to be obtained in only 30 minutes.

“A need for a rapid result is most important in suboxone treatment, because you want to be sure that if you’re prescribing suboxone to someone, they’re actually taking it,” she said. “So we want to be sure it is actually in their urine and we want to make sure they are not taking other substances like benzodiazepine, which can cause a serious reaction.”

The laboratory is crucial to entire multidisciplinary team.

“It really is helping the addictionologists and counselors to really see what is in their clients’ systems,” Rodway said. “When we can show a patient exactly what drugs are in their system, it has an impact.”

Although drug screens have been a priority, the lab is equipped and will soon offer a range of testing services.

“We will be doing hematology, immunology, chemistry and some microbiology,” she said. “Forty percent of diagnoses in primary care are based on lab tests, so we will soon be able to do standard liver tests, diabetes tests, kidney tests — we will soon be able to do all the standard primary care testing on-site here.”

Rodway says the lab will make it possible to also collect community data.

“We hope to be able to use the data that we’re gathering not only to help each individual, but also to create new interventions and new programs to impact the community as soon as we can,” she said. “What a perfect venue to impact the community not only in a time of public health crisis, but also to provide a very unique approach to health and health care. It integrates behavioral health, addiction medicine, primary care and laboratory medicine.”


Ashtabula County Opiate Summit

Save The Date
October 14, 2016 @ 8am-3:45pm
Sponsored by Signature Health

What is the Ashtabula County Opiate Summit?

An annual event focused on helping educate Ashtabula County on the impacts of the opiate epidemic, and what we can ALL do to be a part of building a stronger, safer community. This year’s theme is “Refocusing the Lens”. We’d like to help shift the perception of this problem away from the hopelessness and negative and toward the possibilities and potential that exist within our neighborhoods.

Who is invited?

EVERYBODY! We welcome anyone interested in learning and being a part of the solution. In the past, we've had attendees who were concerned citizens, educators, friends and family of individuals suffering from addiction, elected officials, treatment professionals, attorneys and Judges, members of the faith-based community, and representatives from almost every profession imaginable. If you care about Ashtabula County, this event is for you!

When and where is this year's Summit?

The 5th Annual Ashtabula County Opiate Summit will be held on Friday, October 14, 2016 from 8am-3:45pm, at Lakeside High School in Ashtabula, Ohio.

Where can I get more information?

Call Kaitie Park, Ashtabula County Prevention Coalition Coordinator, at (440)992-3121 or e-mail her at

What else do I need to know?

We'll have many options for learning at this year's Summit! Lunch, CEUs & CEUs for Educators, are included, as well as raffles! 
We are also working on having RN Credits, and CLE Credits available, too!

Speakers about:

  • The connection between trauma and addiction
  • Self-care for everybody
  • The statewide perspective on stigma and drug abuse 

Educational sessions about:

  • The community impact of the epidemic
  • Drug use trends within Ashtabula County
  • Self-care for treatment professionals
  • Losing a loved one to an overdose
  • The science of optimism
  • Naloxone/Narcan

Click here to download the 2016 Opiate Summit Vendor Registration Opiate Summit Vendor Registration.docx?ver=2016-08-30-152628-280