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County health center receives grant to tackle opioid crisis

The St. Francois County Health Center has been selected as a 2018-19 Local Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response awardee and will be receiving up to $100,000 from the National Association of County and City Health Officials and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

The St. Francois County Health Center has been selected as a 2018-19 Local Opioid Overdose Prevention and Response (LOOPR) awardee.

The Health Center will receive up to $100,000 from NACCHO (National Association of County and City Health Officials) and the CDC National Center for Injury Prevention and Control to increase its capacity to respond effectively to the opioid epidemic at the local level.

According to the health department, the funding will help the health center work with community partners to develop an action plan and implement a community initiative to address the opioid epidemic in St. Francois County through academic detailing and other evidence-based strategies.

“Obviously we were disappointed to not receive the previous opioid response grant we applied for back in September,” Amber Elliott, St. Francois County Health Center assistant director, said. “But our director, Jessica McKnight, and I never stopped looking for funding to help our community address this problem.”

The Health Center was contacted by NACCHO in late November about the LOOPR funding opportunity and after several conference calls was notified right before the holidays about the award.

“Since finding out about the funding we have held two meetings with our community partners in the opioid consortium,” Elliott said. “We picked up right where we left off in July talking about exactly what our community needs are.”

The opioid consortium is looking at ways to prevent or reduce the incidences of opioid overdose in St. Francois County through measures such as increasing access to life-saving Narcan and medication assisted treatment; preventing transmission of hepatitis C and HIV; improving prevention programs in local schools; and increasing community awareness.

Elliott added that a big focus of the grant funding is for provider education and support through a peer-to-peer learning program known as Academic Detailing.

The Health Center is recruiting up to six healthcare professionals to participate in a training provided by the National Resource Center for Academic Detailing (NaRCAD) at the St. Francois County Ambulance District on March 5-6.

According to information provided regarding the training, "participants will learn outreach education techniques to foster a relationship and facilitate conversation with clinicians to identify individualized needs to provide evidence-based measures in treating and preventing opioid use disorder."

The opioid consortium plans to meet next month to continue developing the community action plan identifying specific activities to address opioid-related issues in St. Francois County.

In 2017 the U.S. Department of health and Human Services declared the opioid crisis a nationwide public health emergency. Drug overdoses are currently the leading cause of unintentional injury in the United States.

St. Francois County was among the top counties in the nation recently identified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as being at risk for HIV and Hepatitis C infections due to injection drug use.

St. Francois County’s drug overdose rate (36/100,000) is higher than the US average (19.8/100,000). The county has seen increases in reports of injection drug use and heroin use in substance use treatment admissions, increases in drug-related hospitalizations, and in arrests for both adults and juveniles for drug-related offenses.

For more information or help with addiction, contact the St. Francois County Health Center at 573-431-1947 or call the Substance Abuse and Mental Health National Helpline at 1-800-662 HELP (4357)

For more information on the opioid consortium or the academic detailing training contact Elliott at the St. Francois County Health Center at 573-431-1947, ext. 113, or email amber.elliott@sfchealth.org.

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Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3628, or at bradford@dailyjournalonline.com.

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