ATHENS — Ohio University’s Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Affairs received a $1 million grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy to help communities in five Ohio counties implement the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP).
“With the implementation funding from HRSA, we will further develop the infrastructure necessary for local communities to implement, evaluate, and sustain evidence-based efforts for prevention, treatment and recovery,” Dr. Holly Raffle, project lead and Voinovich School professor, said.
The Voinovich School partnered with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) to submit two separate, but complementary, grant proposals and both were funded for $1 million each. The partnership will enable the organizations to continue to work with communities in Ashtabula, Fairfield, Seneca, Sandusky and Washington counties through a highly innovative community of practice approach that empowers high-risk rural Ohio communities to address opioid use and overdose deaths across the full continuum of care.
“We are grateful for the hard work and creative partnerships that will benefit rural and Appalachian communities in Ohio,” Bobbie Boyer, deputy director of the Office of Prevention Services at the OhioMHAS, said. “This large grant award is a testament to the success of the collective impact approach, and we look forward to celebrating continued success from this expansion.”
This is a follow-up implementation grant to an initial $200,000 planning grant awarded to each the School and PIRE by HRSA in 2018.
“The opioid epidemic still challenges Ohio’s communities. We are looking forward to supporting five community-based organizations as they implement the strategic plans that were created during the planning grant,” Raffle said.
The grant money will be distributed to five organizations who will lead local consortiums to implement RCORP: the Ashtabula County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board; the Fairfield County Alcohol, Drug Addiction, and Mental Health Services Board; the Sandusky County Public Health Department; the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Seneca, Sandusky and Wyandot counties; and the Washington County Local Health Department.
"I am thrilled that we will be able to continue to collaborate with the community to build effective infrastructure to address addiction," Dr. Richard Wittberg, Washington County Health Commissioner, said.
Since 2009, the Voinovich School has been involved in a dozen statewide initiatives related to substance use prevention and mental health promotion, alongside the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) and various prevention partners, under the direction of Raffle. The Voinovich School has three current initiatives aimed at combating the opioid crisis.
“The Voinovich School's core focus is on making an impact by working in partnership with organizations to address the most pressing challenges facing communities today, such as helping to find long-lasting solutions to the opioid abuse problem,” Dr. Mark Weinberg, Dean, Voinovich School, said. “We’re proud to be part of these ongoing efforts."
According to a release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, HRSA’s Federal Office of Rural Health Policy is awarding more than $111 million to 96 rural organizations across 37 states as part of its RCORP initiative. These funds, which also include an evaluation of the initiative, will strengthen rural communities’ capacity to provide needed SUD prevention, treatment, and recovery services and build the evidence base for interventions that are effective in rural settings. Eighty rural consortia received RCORP-Implementation awards of $1 million each to implement a set of prevention, treatment and recovery activities.
“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar in the release. “With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results. Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”