MRH’s $1 million grant to help fight opioid abuse in Northwest Colorado |

MRH’s $1 million grant to help fight opioid abuse in Northwest Colorado

Memorial Regional Health announced Monday it is one of 80 rural health organizations in America and the only entity in Colorado to receive a federal $1 million grant to combat opioid addiction.

According to a news release, the award from the Health Resources & Services Administration and Federal Office of Rural Health Policy Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation initiative is a three-year federal program, which will distribute a total of $80 million to rural health organizations throughout the country, is part of a push from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award more than $1 billion in opioid-specific grants to help combat the opioid crisis in American communities.

Last fall, MRH also received a $200,000 grant award from HRSA in the initial phase of the RCORP program, RCORP-Planning. The one-year funding project, which will conclude on Sept. 29, has allowed MRH to form a consortium of agencies covering Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties.

“Over the past year, MRH and its partners have made extensive plans to identify and address existing gaps and opportunities in prevention, treatment, and recovery services for area residents with substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder,” the release stated. “MRH and its seven RCORP-Planning partners — Grand Futures Prevention Coalition, Mind Springs Health, Moffat County Sheriff’s Office, Northwest Colorado Health, Pioneers Medical Center, Rio Blanco County Public Health, and The Health Partnership Serving Northwest Colorado — also used a portion of the grant funding to contract with the Colorado Health Institute, an independent healthcare policy and research institute. The CHI—in tandem with The Steadman Group, its partner entity of healthcare providers—has spent the past five months conducting an in-depth analysis on SUD/OUD throughout Northwest Colorado, completing one of the project’s required deliverables.”

As the lead organization in the upcoming RCORP-Implementation interagency project, which began Sept. 1, MRH said the organization has expanded its network to include Providence Recovery Services, a new treatment and recovery center located in Craig for people struggling with substance use and opioid use.

“During the next three years, MRH and its partners will implement services designed to decrease the mortality and morbidity related to SUD, including OUD, for the people of Northwest Colorado,” MRH said in the release.

Focus areas include prevention, treatment, and recovery.

MRH said they’ve already identified several partners they plan to collaborate with to help further services across the region.

“We’ve identified a group of quality regional partners for this project, all of whom operate in healthcare, mental health, addiction treatment, prevention, and law enforcement for Jackson, Moffat, Rio Blanco, and Routt counties,” MRH Vice President of Clinical Services Kyle Miller said. “Ultimately, our partners share close variations of our mission, which is to improve the quality of life for the communities we serve. They also share our expertise in local issues. As such, we are fully committed to work together on this project for the duration of the grant term and beyond. Every day, our emergency department and primary care providers strive to help people suffering from substance abuse problems, including opioid addiction. Across the region, our partners encounter the same issues at all levels of local communities. This grant project will be our group’s opportunity to enhance those efforts to the best of our abilities and provide services that will directly help people who are suffering from the opioid crisis.”

Paula Belcher, MRH’s director of population health will serve as the project implementation director and will also collaborate throughout the three-year grant term with an outside consultant, Affinity Healthcare Chief Executive Officer Ben Bloom, a clinical psychologist based out of Springfield, Missouri.

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