Published on May 01, 2018

Firelands Awarded $750,000 Grant to Fight Opioid Epidemic

(May 1, 2018 – Sandusky, Ohio) The fight to end the opioid epidemic in Erie County just got stronger, thanks to a three-year grant award by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The $250,000 per year awarded to Firelands Regional Medical Center is designed to help solidify collaboration among key community stakeholders.

Improved coordination among stakeholders will help ensure a continuum of care is available to individuals and families who need help. This grant will help support the major players in the fight against opioid abuse: Firelands Regional Medical Center Counseling and Recovery Services, Firelands Physician Group, the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Erie and Ottawa Counties, Erie County Health Department, Bayshore Counseling Services, Family Health Services, the Erie County Sheriff, and local law enforcement.

The grant is also designed to begin the Rural Health Opioid Program. This new program is intended to align each of these organizations to provide and enhance medical and social services for people with opioid addiction, saving more people from drug overdose and death. The grant can also be used to provide training to advance the skills of those working with substance abuse disorder.

The grant award focuses on the screening and treatment of patients any time they utilize services within Firelands Regional Medical Center. Some of the funds will sustain and expand the Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program currently used at Firelands.

SBIRT is a process that screens individuals for substance abuse in the hospital and other settings regardless of the purpose of their visit. Depending on their level of risk, they may receive a brief counseling session immediately, or referral for counseling, treatment and other services. The grant expands the current SBIRT program to include screening every time a person is a patient at Firelands, not just the first time they are a patient, as well as screening children age 12-18.

“This expansion ensures that individuals who need help are not falling through the cracks,” says Marsha Mruk, Vice-President of Firelands Regional Medical Center Counseling and Recovery Services. “The grant also helps Firelands to continue to provide peer support in the Emergency Department. When a person dealing with opioid abuse is in the emergency room, they will meet with someone who has been in their shoes before and has had success with overcoming addiction. Research suggests this approach helps improve outcomes for opioid-addicted patients.”

The coordination of services along with the support of key stakeholders provides our community with a united effort to combat the opioid crisis.

“We all must work together if we want to save people’s lives,” says Mruk. “Each entity in the county has a unique role in the prevention, early intervention and treatment of opioid abuse. We are grateful to HRSA and to the leaders of each of these organizations for recognizing the need to collaborate to address this issue. We look forward to meeting the needs of our community together and, ultimately, to saving lives in our region. “

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