Three Tennessee Health Centers Receive Funding to Fight the Opioid Epidemic
Friday, June 29, 2018

Section: People & Places in the News, June/July 2018

(from Cardinal Health Foundation)

The Cardinal Health Foundation recently announced that it has awarded over $3 million in grants to more than 70 nonprofit organizations to support local efforts to combat the opioid epidemic across Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The grants are being made through the Cardinal Health Foundation's Generation Rx program and are funded by Cardinal Health's Opioid Action Program, launched last fall.

Three TPCA member health centers received awards: Community Health of East Tennessee, Dayspring Family Health Center, and Hope Family Health.

Grants were awarded in the following categories:
  • Prevention education: To expand medication safety education for thousands of students in K-12 schools and universities, using Generation Rx educational materials.
  • Best practices in pain medication use: To support healthcare organizations as they work with prescribers to transform the way they help patients manage chronic, non-cancer pain, with fewer opioids prescribed.
  • Community-level responses: To support multi-sector collaborative work to reduce opioid addiction, overdoses and opioid-related deaths in eight communities in Ohio, home to Cardinal Health's headquarters and nearly 7,000 employees.
"Thanks to a multi-million-dollar investment in the Foundation through Cardinal Health's Opioid Action Program, we are able to support many more organizations as they work to reduce the rate of opioid misuse and addiction in their communities," said Jessie Cannon, vice president of community relations at Cardinal Health.

The Opioid Action Program is a multi-pronged initiative to help communities in four of the nation's hardest-hit states fight the opioid epidemic. Each element of the program is cited by leading experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM), and the President's Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, as critical to reducing opioid misuse, abuse, and addiction. The Opioid Action Program builds on Generation Rx, created through a partnership with the Cardinal Health Foundation and The Ohio State University College of Pharmacy to raise awareness and knowledge about the dangers of prescription drug misuse.

Grantees will participate in learning collaboratives led by subject matter experts, who will help guide their work and share best practices:
  • Faculty and staff from The Ohio State University Colleges of Pharmacy and Social Work will provide medication safety education expertise and program evaluation to prevention education grantees, and CompDrug's Youth to Youth International will provide expertise in effective youth-led prevention;
  • Pharmacists with expertise in pain management from Geisinger Health will guide those working on best practices in pain medication use; and
  • Community-level response grantees will be led by LEAD, a nonprofit organization focused on prevention and community collaboration.
"All of the organizations selected for funding share our goal of turning the tide on the opioid epidemic," Cannon stated. "Ultimately, we expect our grantees to learn from each other—and we will learn from them. As they develop best practices, our goal is to spread this work throughout the country, and foster solutions to this complex public health crisis."

Donnie Poston, prevention coordinator at Community Health of East Tennessee, Campbell County, Tenn., said, "We've been hit hard here: In 2015, we were third in the entire country in terms of the most opioids prescribed per person. Nearly a quarter of our population lives in poverty. There is a lot of drug misuse and addiction here; educating our kids is critical to helping the next generation avoid misuse. The Cardinal Health Foundation grant will allow us to maintain one of the few prevention education programs in the county. We will educate hundreds of students and their parents about the risks of misusing medication and about making safe choices."

Ken Wilson, MD, system vice president for quality and physician leadership development at Norton Medical Group – Norton Healthcare, Louisville, Ky., said, "We've been working on changing opioid prescribing practices throughout our health system since 2016, and have seen a steady decline in the number of prescriptions our clinicians write, as well as in the strength and number of dosages they write for. With this grant, we will take the next steps: better engaging acute and chronic pain patients across the care continuum, educating patients on pain self-management, and educating providers about complementary and alternative pain management strategies. We'll also accelerate the difficult task of helping chronic pain patients in our primary care practices convert from opioid pain management to alternative strategies."

Steven J. Martin, PharmD and dean of the Rudolph H. Raabe College of Pharmacy at Ohio Northern University, Ada, Ohio, said, "The community-level response grant allows us to expand our Mobile Health Clinic into a broader, medically underserved area. Through this project, we will train student healthcare professionals to provide risk assessment and intervention for individuals at risk for substance abuse, and work with multi-disciplinary teams to find alternatives to opioids. These healthcare students will go on to careers in which that training will be amplified across the state."

Click here to view the full ist of grant recipients.