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St. Claire HealthCare and NE KY Health Education Center awarded federal opioid crisis grant


St. Claire HealthCare (SCH), in collaboration with its hosted Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center (NE KY AHEC), was recently awarded a $200,000 grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) to establish the Northeast Kentucky Opioid Crisis Response Consortium.

SCH/NE KY AHEC was one of eight Kentucky organizations – and 120 nationwide – to receive the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning grant.

In addition to SCH/NE KY AHEC, the regional consortium will bring together the Clark County Health Department, Tri-State Primary Care, the Kentucky Rural Healthcare Information Organization (KRHIO), and Comprehend, Inc., to focus on prevention, treatment, and recovery related to opioid use disorder. The one-year project, which takes effect June 1, targets the rural areas of Clark, Greenup, Lawrence, Mason, Nicholas, Powell, and Robertson counties.

Specifically, the consortium hopes to: expand treatment options, including access to medication-assisted treatment (MAT), by recruiting and training new opioid use disorder providers; reduce treatment costs for uninsured and underinsured patients who seek MAT or other treatment options; and enhance the involvement of peer recovery specialists in both clinical and non-clinical settings.

This new project will build on the efforts of the Northeast Kentucky Opioid Crisis Response Network, which was formed in August 2018 through a separate HRSA grant. The network, which targets St. Claire’s 11-county service region, includes as partners SCH, the NE KY AHEC, Pathways Inc., the Gateway District Health Department, and Sterling Health Solutions Inc.

After 10 months of planning, the opioid-focused network has two clinical intervention grant applications under review in hopes of establishing “bridge programs” from four hospital emergency departments to existing MAT clinics, as well as developing new MAT access points.

“The scope of the opioid epidemic remains so large in our region that it will take multiple approaches, and numerous partners working together, in order to make a significant impact,” said St. Claire’s David A. Gross, who serves as project director for both the opioid network and the opioid consortium. “But with this collection of organizations unifying their efforts, I am confident we will soon begin delivering hope to those individuals currently suffering with opioid use disorder.” 

The NE KY AHEC is one of eight regional centers in Kentucky that have a mission of enhancing access to quality health care services in rural and medically underserved areas. Through their pipeline initiatives, regional AHECs strive to improve the supply and distribution of health care professionals via community and academic partnerships.

The NE KY AHEC, hosted by St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead, serves a 17-county region that includes Bath, Boyd, Carter, Clark, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, and Rowan counties. For more information about the NE KY AHEC or any of its programs, visit www.neahec.org.

(provided by Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center)

Paul Hitchcock earned his Masters in Communications from Morehead State University and Bachelors in Radio-TV/Psychology from Georgetown College. A veteran broadcaster for more than 40 years and an avid fan of blues, jazz and American roots music. Hitchcock has been with WMKY since 1986 and was named General Manager in 2003. He currently hosts "Muddy Bottom Blues" (Fri., 8pm-9pm), "Nothin' But The Blues" (Sat., 8pm-12am), "Sunday Night Jazz Showcase" and "Live From The Jazz Lounge" (Sun., 8pm-9pm) and "The Golden Age of Radio" (Sun., 2pm-3pm). He also serves as producer for "A Time For Tales" and "The Reader's Notebook."
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