(MEDFORD, OR 09/21/17). A $175,700 federal grant to the Rogue Community Health will be used to Access Increased Mental health and Substance abuse (AIMS) services in Jackson County. Rogue Community Health is one of 1,178 health centers nationwide to receive an AIMS grant award.
The money is part of a much larger $200 million in funding for substance abuse and mental health services announced last week by the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). The funding is part of HRSA’s five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic which includes improving access to treatment in the primary care setting, increasing use of overdose-reversing drugs, improving understanding of the drug epidemic and implementing new research aimed at improving pain management. “Nationally, about half of all care for common mental health conditions happen in the primary care settings,” said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D.
Ryan Bair, Chief Network Officer for Rogue Community Health, said the money will be used to directly help people in Jackson County. “We have been working to expand Rogue Community Health’s capacity to serve people with mental health and substance abuse concerns. With this grant, we now have 120 days to further expand services by upgrading technology, providing training and by raising awareness of the opioid crisis in the primary care setting,” explained Bair. In the last six months, Rogue Community Health has hired five additional community health workers and eight mental/behavioral health department staff including psychiatric nurse practitioner, Elaina Jensen, PMHNP, FNP, CARN-AP and behavioral health director, Erica Idso-Weisz, LMFT.
“The opioid crisis does not just affect individuals; it also impacts the health care and social welfare of every community, including family structure,” said Bair. Since 2000, southern Oregon has been experiencing a growing problem with opioid abuse and overdose for drugs like heroin as well as prescription pills like Vicodin. Jackson County is one of eight Oregon counties listed as a HIDTA, a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.
“As the opioid crisis spreads across America, Oregon has not been spared. In every corner of our state, I’ve heard heartbreaking stories from families who have felt the devastation of opioid abuse and heroin addiction,” said U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley. “Addiction is a disease, and we need dedicated resources to treat it. With this grant, Rogue Community Health will be able to provide Jackson County residents with vital substance abuse and mental health services — part of a comprehensive national effort to battle this urgent health crisis.”
Nationwide, about half of all care for common mental health conditions happens in the primary care setting. Health centers are where people are often most comfortable and where staff with varied expertise have a unique opportunity to provide mental health and substance abuse services to patients who wouldn’t otherwise seek nor have access to treatment. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 91 Americans die every day from opioid overdose.
“I am gratified that Rogue Community Health has earned this grant to build on its strengths to help people in southern Oregon who need mental health services and substance use treatment for opioids and other drugs,” said U.S. Senator Ron Wyden about the award. “These well-earned federal resources put the focus right where it belongs – on increased access to treatment that can save lives and benefit communities.”
Rogue Community Health provides affordable and comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, and integrative health services to people of all ages and backgrounds — regardless of insurance status or ability to pay. The organization’s health centers are located in Ashland, Butte Falls, Medford, Prospect and White City. In 2016, the nonprofit agency provided 9,261 patients with over 29,000 visits including 7,034 behavioral health patient visits.