Jon Lepley Named Eagleville Hospital’s Director of Medicine
Jon Lepley, DO, approaches his work the same way he does most challenging tasks in life: patiently and thoughtfully.
Prior to arriving at Eagleville Hospital in January 2019 as its new Director of Medicine, Dr. Lepley pioneered the medication-assisted treatment (MAT) program for Philadelphia’s prison system, where about 76 percent of the population struggles with a substance use disorder. What began in February 2018 as a modest effort to protect prison inmates from heroin overdoses when they’re released quickly garnered national attention as one of the few prison-based MAT programs in the country. Today, the Philadelphia prison system is the largest MAT provider in the city.
“Starting that program was one of the most challenging experiences of my life and also the most rewarding,” Dr. Lepley says. “But, once it was fully operational and capable of running independently, I found myself wanting more direct engagement with patients.”
He bypassed opportunities closer to his home in Lancaster to join the leadership team at Eagleville Hospital. “The way the hospital, historically, has extended treatment to a stigmatized or traditionally underserved populations was very important to me,” Dr. Lepley says.
In addition to personally overseeing the detoxification of patients, Dr. Lepley, who is Board Certified in Family Medicine and holds additional qualifications in Addiction Medicine and Correctional Medicine, is also implementing Eagleville’s own MAT program. “We have a great team here. Therapists, case managers, and clinicians meet every day to discuss the treatment decisions. And consistency is the first part of implementing anything,” he says. “The hard work will come in changing our collective mindset. From day one, we need to be asking the patients what their goals are for treatment and ascertaining whether they’re good candidates for MAT. Most will be. But we want to make sure the medication is supporting their cognitive therapy and that it can be continued when they leave here.”
From the start of his career, Dr. Lepley’s focus has largely been on the treatment of substance use disorders in a range of settings. After earning his medical degree from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in 2003, Dr. Lepley completed a family medicine residency at Heart of Lancaster Regional Medical Center in Lancaster, Pa. During this time, he also earned a waiver to prescribe Suboxone to treat opioid use disorders. Upon completion of his residency, he opened a primary care practice, through which he continued to administer treatment for opioid disorders. Two years in, he was also named the part-time medical director of an outpatient buprenorphine treatment program. He then served briefly as medical director of a 120-bed residential treatment facility before being hired by the Philadelphia prison system in 2012.
Dr. Lepley sought treatment for his own substance use disorders in 2005 with the Pennsylvania Physicians’ Health Program, which provides support and advocacy to physicians struggling with addiction or mental illness. The experience, he says, inspired his professional pursuit of substance use disorder treatment.
“The prospect of living free of opioids and alcohol seemed hopeless and unimaginable,” Dr. Lepley has said of that point in his life.
He continues to voluntarily participate in the program’s long-term support system. He also sits on its advisory board. “I give back so that the program is here for other physicians who feel hopeless, isolated, and have lost their way in life,” Dr. Lepley says.
Among his outlets aside from the program: his wife and their 11-year-old daughter—and long-distance running. He started four years ago, and he’s run six marathons over the last three years.
When asked what appeals to him about distance running, Dr. Lepley remains true to form in his response, “the patience required for long-distance running jibes with where I am in life.”