PINEHURST – The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has awarded a $600,000 grant to FirstHealth of the Carolinas to help combat the opioid crisis in both Moore and Richmond counties.
The three-year project will expand health care services in these two counties by increasing access and assistance for opioid use disorder.
Funding from the grant will allow FirstHealth to create the “Sandhills Opioid Response Consortium.” The consortium will be made up of several community partners, and will work on implementing opioid use disorder prevention, and treatment and recovery interventions designed to reduce opioid overdoses among rural populations.
“The concept of this grant is to bring partners together to ensure that no matter where someone is in their addiction and/or recovery process, our partners will know how to get individuals the help and services they need,” says Roxanne Elliott, policy director for FirstHealth Community Health Services.
Partners already committed to participating in the project include FirstHealth Behavioral Health Services, Drug Free Moore County, Moore County Health Department, Richmond County Health Department, Richmond County Department of Social Services, Sandhills Center, Community Care of the Sandhills, Moore County Sheriff’s Office, Alcohol and Drug Services, The Village of Pinehurst Police Department, and HealthNC+.
“Drug Free Moore County is excited to be a partner in the consortium,” says Karen Wicker, director of Drug Free Moore County. “We are especially excited to be able to recruit, train and work with peer-support counselors as we promote recovery efforts in the Sandhills. The peer-support counselors are individuals who have been in recovery for at least one year. This opportunity gives these folks a way to give back and support others in their recovery.”
Partners will work together to expand access to medication-assisted treatment, recruit and certify peer-support specialists, establish peer-support programs specific for opioid use disorder, and continue to increase public awareness of Narcan and the opioid crisis.
In addition, the grant funds will be used to increase referrals to intensive inpatient and intensive outpatient treatment programs for recovery. Individuals discharged from a recovery program will be linked to providers who can continue to provide medication-assisted treatment.
According to the Robert Wood Johnson County Health Rankings, Richmond County documented 37 overdoses and a mortality rate of 27 per 100,000 from overdoses from 2013 – 2015, up from 34 overdoses and a mortality rate of 25 from 2012-2014. Moore County has documented similar increases, in that 36 overdoses were documented from 2013-2015 with a mortality rate of 13 per 100,000, up from 35 overdoses from 2012-2014. The North Carolina average mortality rate is 14 per 100,000.
“FirstHealth is committed to working collaboratively with our partners to ensure individuals and families struggling with opioid use disorder have resources and support for treatment and recovery,” adds Elliott. “Our hope is that in three years, we will have made an impact on the opioid crisis in our region.”
For more information, contact Roxanne Elliott by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (910) 715-3487.