The Utah Center for Rural Health (UCRH) at Southern Utah University has received a planning grant of $200,000 for combating the opioid use disorder. The grant was awarded in September as part of series of grants from the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) aimed at combating the opioid crisis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ranked Beaver, Emery and Carbon counties among the top 5% of counties in the country at risk of HIV and HCV as a direct result of the opioid epidemic. In the rankings, Carbon County is 84th, Beaver County is 114th, and Emery County is 186th. Carbon county alone dispenses 176 opioid prescriptions per 100 people, more than twice the national average, and the Utah state average. Every month, 52 Utah adults die as a result of drug poisoning, 77.6% of which involve opioids. These statistics highlight the dire need for health measures to be taken in these counties to prevent further morbidity.
Rita Osborn is the Executive Director of the Utah Center for Rural Health, and is overseeing the planning grant.
“Our own rural communities are terribly underserved,” said Osborn. “Our hope is that our findings and needs assessment will be able to provide care that can be replicated in other counties. By forming a consortium of health providers in these communities, we will be able to better serve those with an opioid use disorder.”
The UCRH will use the grant to create a rural consortium with entities working on the opioid use disorder in Utah. Already the UCRH has begun collaborating with the Four Corners Behavioral health, Southwest Utah Public health, Southwest Utah Behavioral health, Beaver Valley Hospital, Castleview Hospital, Green River Medical Center, Carbon Valley Medical Center, and the Southeast Public Health Department.
The goal of the group will be to work together in order to avoid duplication of services, maximizing the assets already in place in rural communities, as well as to utilize the individual strengths of the consortium members to improve the care available to those with an opioid use disorder. Through the establishment of this consortium Southern Utah’s rural communities will be better able to plan for the future, identifying existing gaps in rural health coverage to better allocate future funds for fighting the opioid crisis in more effective ways.
The Utah Center for Rural Health’s mission is to promote and enhance the quality of rural health through leadership, advocacy, coalition building, and education.
For more information, contact Rita Osborn at email@example.com