SPRINGFIELD, Ohio (WDTN) – Nearly $900,000 was awarded to Clark State Community College to establish a program that would aim to combat the opioid epidemic in America.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded $899,228 in grant funding through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) that will fund a program that, with additional professionals and paraprofessionals, will provide graduates the knowledge they need to work with community partners to deliver needed services to combat addiction in the southwest Ohio region, which has been crippled by the epidemic.
“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,” HHS Secretary Alex Azar said. “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.”
Clark State noted in its grant proposal that while opioid abuse is high, there is limited access to medication-assisted treatment and local access to treatment is limited.
“Addiction is a serious problem in our city, our region, our state and our nation,” Dr. Jo Alice Blondin, president of Clark State, said. “Clark State wants to be a problem-solver, and knowing the excellent education provided by our social services faculty and the strong support we get from our partners, we knew we had to jump at this opportunity.”
The program will also serve as a launching point for the graduates’ careers in chemical dependency, addiction, and mental health services.
“The workforce problem in our area is three-fold: there is a significant workforce shortage (not enough skilled candidates to fill positions); providers compete for the limited pool of skilled workers; and entry-level workers could be retained and move-up by raising their trauma-informed, integrated addiction competencies and credentials,” Dr. Greta H. Mayer, CEO – Mental Health Recovery Board of Clark, Greene and Madison Counties, said.