Northwest Health Services has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to combat substance and opioid use disorders in the Atchison, Holt, Nodaway, Grundy and Livingston county communities through the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP).

The money was awarded August 6, 2020, through the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration as part of the $3 million given to areas across the state to combat the opioid crisis. Northwest Health Services is one of three organizations to receive the funding. More than $101 million was awarded nationally to support 116 organizations in 42 states and the District of Columbia that target high-risk rural communities.

“This is another opportunity for the organization to work collaboratively in the community to address the opioid issue that is plaguing our communities across Northwest Missouri, said Terry Petersen, Director of Behavioral Health and the Medication Assisted Treatment Program at Northwest Health.

“Overdose deaths continue to rise and we must find a way to educate and involve the community in finding a solution. This grant will allow for increased resources towards a solution,” Petersen added.

Representatives of county health departments, local hospitals (Community Hospital-Fairfax, Mosaic Medical Center – Maryville, St. Luke’s – Hedrick and Wright Memorial, local EMS, local law enforcement(sheriff or city police dependent on the county) formed an RCORP-Planning consortium and played a role in the planning process to make this funding a success. The consortium met with communities across Northwest Missouri collecting 2,800 surveys and learning about the needs in each area.

“Collaborative work, is without question the best practice to serve those in our community struggling with substance-use disorders, and the consortium is poised to continue this important work with this award over the next three years,” Petersen said.

Recipients must use the funding to enhance and expand service delivery in rural communities, and to implement prevention, treatment and recovery activities to meet needs of people suffering with substance or opioid use disorders, according to the U.S. DHHS. Nationally, $89 million was awarded to 89 rural organizations across 38 states through the RCORP-Implementation grant.

HHS has expanding access to treatment for Americans with substance use disorders, including opioid use disorder, and that commitment continues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has created particular stresses for many Americans struggling with substance use disorders, and these HRSA awards will help strengthen prevention, treatment, and recovery services, especially in rural America, at this difficult time,” said HHS Director Alex Azar.

“These RCORP-Implementation grants are an essential part of HRSA’s overall efforts in helping to combat the opioid epidemic in the rural areas of our country,” said Tom Engels, HRSA administrator.

For more information about the national opioid crisis, visit https://www.hhs.gov/opioids/.