Promise Community Health Center of Sioux Center will be on the front lines of tackling the growing opioid epidemic.
The health center has been awarded a $166,130 Access Increases in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (AIMS) grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant will enable Promise expand its mental health services and to add substance abuse services – with a particular focus of addressing people’s addiction to opioids, which are drugs used to reduce pain.
In the process, Promise will hire a full-time mental health counselor and increase its behavioral health services from 11 to 32 hours per week.
Nancy Dykstra, executive director of Promise, said the grant will allow Promise to expand its current integrated and team-based model of behavioral health care with primary care. Promise will implement evidence-based screening, assessment, and mental health and substance abuse practices. Promise will enhance collaboration and referral services with local behavioral health providers and community-based organizations.
“Promise CHC will educate the community on the opioid epidemic and provide resources and tools to assist families on seeking help for family members,” Dykstra said. “This is vital to address the growing opioid epidemic in our community and nation.”
Promise was among 1,178 community health centers and 13 rural health organizations nationwide awarded more than $200 million in funding to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services. Iowa’s 14 community health centers were awarded more than $2.38 million.
“No corner of our country, from rural areas to urban centers, has escaped the scourge of the opioid crisis,” said Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, noting that the HRSA grants will go directly to local organizations that are best-situated to address the opioid problems in their own communities.
Promise will immediately begin the search to hire two full-time professionals at 32 hours per week to support the expanded services: a licensed mental health social worker and a bilingual mental health assistant.
Once the personnel is in place, training will begin for the therapist, assistant and primary care staff to equip them with the tools to effectively screen and assess for co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. Promise will engage experts in opioid dependency and abuse training for its providers and staff to monitor patients with chronic pain, prescribe effectively and screen for dependency.
In the meantime, agreements will be reached with area organizations for the management of complex cases of opioid dependency.
“Promise CHC will strive to develop a comprehensive approach to reducing risk for persons struggling with opioid abuse by increasing awareness of the opioid epidemic, the dangers it poses, risks of suicide and the appropriate use of naloxone to reduce opioid overdose through education that encompasses patients, families and the community,” Dykstra said.