Tennessee is well known for country music, the Great Smoky Mountains and Elvis, but during the last few years, the state has received another distinctionÃÂone that comes with no pride: ItÃÂs one of the top five states for methamphetamine-lab seizures. And where meth is made, itÃÂs used in abundance.
While the drug has been present in the area for decades, the new millennium brought a flood of methamphetamine into Middle Tennessee. In the last few years, doctors, nurses and counselors at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) have increasingly seen the effects of the drug as it has made its way into Vanderbilt clinics, hospital rooms and operating suites. Nowhere has meth made its presence felt more visibly than at VanderbiltÃÂs Regional Burn Center.
The exact number of patients brought to VUMC for meth-related illness or injury may never be accurately tallied, but what is known is that Vanderbilt has provided millions of dollars in uncompensated critical care. John Howser, assistant director and media director for the Office of News and Public Affairs at VUMC, reports on the cost of TennesseeÃÂs meth epidemic in economic terms as well as human lives.