Federal grants of $100,000 each will create an opioid response network in Northeast Ky., fight childhood obesity in Western Ky.

Two Kentucky organizations have received $100,000 grants from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration that will be used to address two different health issues that plague our state: opioids and childhood obesity.

The Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center will use its grant money to establish a regional Opioid Crisis Response Network in collaboration with St. Claire HealthCare, Pathways Inc., Sterling Health Solutions, and the Gateway District Health Department.

“Due to the scope of the opioid epidemic, no single organization can hope to solve it alone,” David A. Gross, administrative director for education and research with St. Claire, which hosts the education center, said in a news release. “But by bringing together a regional medical center, a district health department, a clinic system, and a behavioral health entity, I am confident we will come up with ideas that have the potential to make a meaningful impact on the epidemic within northeastern Kentucky.”

The Opioid Crisis Response Network will be tasked with developing a plan to address opioid use disorder and access to substance abuse treatment within the hospital’s 11-county service region, which includes Bath, Carter, Elliott, Fleming, Lewis, Magoffin, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Rowan, and Wolfe counties.

As part of the one-year HRSA Rural Health Network Development Planning grant project, members of the network will come up with one or two best ideas that are considered feasible.

Several suggestions have already been made, including: increasing opioid-related continuing education opportunities for medical providers; advocating for additional syringe exchange programs; establishing a long-term detoxification unit or a women’s rehabilitation facility; and increasing the number of health care professionals who are able to provide medication-assisted treatment.

The Purchase District Health Department also received one of the $100,000 federal grants and will use it to create the Purchase Area Health Connections Network, according to a spokesperson from HRSA. The department serves Ballard, Carlisle, Fulton, Hickman and McCracken counties.

This project will add at least seven new organizations to the health department’s network to work on the issue of childhood obesity in far Western Kentucky. The new partners will represent educational institutions, community-based organizations, and a parks department. The ultimate goal of this project is to create a Childhood Obesity Community Action Plan, which will create a toolkit for communities to use around this issue.

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