Published December 13, 2019
The New York State Area Health Education Center System (AHEC), based in the Department of Family Medicine, has received two federal grants for programs aimed at addressing the opioid epidemic.
While the epidemic is ubiquitous across the United States, New York State has consistently had opioid overdose rates higher than the national average, according to Leishia Smallwood, MPA, director of AHEC, and principal investigator on the grants.
AHEC’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) has received $1 million in funding over three years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Its goal is to strengthen and expand substance use (including opioids) prevention, treatment and recovery service delivery in high-risk rural areas by specifically working with a consortium of direct care providers, local county health agencies and community non-profit organizations.
Together, the consortium will:
“Some of the unique problems rural communities face in combating opioid drug use is the lack of resources, services and programs for individuals residing in these areas,” Smallwood says.
“Research has shown that communities plagued by stressors such as low income, high unemployment, poverty and other challenges are often disproportionately impacted by drug use,” she adds.
These markers are prevalent in many of the rural counties across New York, most of which have since been identified as being at high risk for opioid misuse.
Two AHEC Centers (Hudson Mohawk AHEC and Western New York Rural AHEC) will be collaborating with direct service providers to help support the initiatives of the program.
They will partner with the following organizations: Spectrum Health & Human Services of WNY, Montgomery County Health Department and Citizen Advocates Inc.
Specific goals of the program are:
The Re-Employment Support and Training for the Opioid Related Epidemic Program (RESTORE) has received $500,000 in funding over three years from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Women’s Bureau.
The grant will focus on addressing the employment needs of women affected by the opioid crisis and combat its impact for those women throughout Western New York, by working with community partners that have direct experience with offering programming to women, Smallwood says.
Specific aims of the grant are to:
Smallwood says the main partner for the RESTORE grant is the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, which has an extensive history of supporting the area.
“The YWCA will provide advice and expertise related to program development and recruitment for women-only populations and support and expand program recruitment efforts,” she says.
Women will be recruited for enrollment and participation in the program with support from the YWCA and Spectrum, as well as through outreach to other local community-based organizations.
Smallwood says it is expected the RESTORE program will train a minimum of 200 participants via at least 12 job-related trainings, such as resume writing, soft skills development and job-searching skills.
Other goals include:
“This program will supplement ongoing efforts by AHEC to counteract the effects of the ongoing crisis in the region and across the state, while leveraging our history as a workforce development organization,” Smallwood says.