Grant to aid foundation’s opioid fight

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The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care has announced it has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration to fight opioid abuse in rural Arkansas.

According to a news release, the foundation will partner with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences’ Center for Distance Health and with Searcy-based Unity Health to implement a one-year Rural Arkansas Planning Taskforce for Opioid Response grant.

The foundation will target 18 rural counties in Arkansas to address the effects of what doctors call “adverse childhood experiences” on opioid abuse and opioid overdose deaths.

The counties that will benefit from the grant are Ashley, Baxter, Cleburne, Conway, Dallas, Franklin, Independence, Izard, Jackson, Lawrence, Logan, Marion, Polk, Randolph, Scott, Sharp, Union and White. A news release says more than 20 percent of adults in these counties have experienced four or more adverse childhood experiences.

“[Adverse childhood experiences] can negatively affect children’s mental and physical health into adulthood and throughout their lives. Arkansas’ high level of [adverse childhood experiences] goes hand-in-hand with our state’s high incidence of opioid abuse,” said Dr. Chad T. Rogers, chief medical officer of the foundation, in the press release.

The Rural Arkansas Planning Taskforce for Opioid Response grant is intended to educate rural health providers and communities about trauma-informed care and identify gaps in opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and access to care.

Money from the grant will be used to form a consortium of statewide organizations to plan a comprehensive approach to opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.

“We are excited to work with UAMS and Unity Health to empower the organizations in these counties to stop the scourge of opioid-related damage and deaths. By addressing the underlying causes of addiction and poor access to treatment, we believe the consortium can reduce the illness and deaths associated with opioid misuse,” said foundation President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Hanley in the press release.

The foundation is a nonprofit public policy and health quality improvement organization.


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