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KBIA’s latest project focuses on reducing opioid overdose deaths in Columbia and its surrounding areas. The project provides information to learn more about substance use disorders, opioid overdose deaths, recovery and tools to reverse opioid overdoses. KBIA’s mission includes communicating information and engaging with all members of our community as a public service.KBIA will continue to cover this ongoing community issue. If you have a story you would like to share, contact news@kbia.org.

Rural Missouri communities receive federal funds to combat opioid overdoses, neonatal abstinence syndrome

Rebecca Smith

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 80,411 overdose deaths in 2021 – more than 75% of all drug overdose deaths in the country.

This is a problem throughout the state of Missouri, as well. According to the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services, 2,180 Missourians died from fatal overdoses in 2022 – many of which involved opioids.

Several community organizations in Missouri were awarded grants from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)in August to combat this serious and growing problem.

FY [Fiscal Year] 2023 Overdose Response Awards

Gibson Center for Behavioral Change - Cape Girardeau - MO - $300,000. Lincoln County Ambulance District - Troy - MO - $300,000. Pike County Memorial Hospital - Louisiana - MO - $300,000. Preferred Family Healthcare, Incorporated - Kirksville - MO - $300,000. The Rolla Mission - Rolla - MO - $300,000. Washington County Memorial Hospital - Potosi - MO - $300,000.
The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) website.

HRSA announced a new cohort of Overdose Response Award grantees in August – including six community organizations in Missouri.

The overdose response grant is a new fund from HRSA’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), and is designed to help rural communities immediately address the opioid overdose crisis.

Megan Meacham, the rural strategic initiatives division director within the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy at HRSA, said the grant funds can be used for a variety of things - like the distribution of naloxone, a drug which can reverse an opioid overdose, staff training, peer support activities, and more.

“So that was really meant to allow rural communities - like what is the most pressing issue you have right now with substance use disorder, and we want to get you some funding, so you can address that,” Meacham said. 

The Overdose Response grant is a one year program. Each grantee was awarded $300,000, which should already be impacting communities.

"Ultimately, we hope that we're helping people, helping families, helping to reduce the impacts of substance use disorder," Meacham said. "And I mean, ultimately saving lives."

Awards were given to community organizations throughout Missouri – in Cape Girardeau, Troy, Louisiana, Kirksville, Rolla and Potosi.

FY [Fiscal Year] 2023 Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awards

South Central Missouri Community Health Center - Rolla - MO - $500,000. Citizens Memorial Hospital District of Polk County - Bolivar - MO - $500,000
The Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) website

South Central Missouri Community Health Center in Rolla and Citizens Memorial Hospital District of Polk County in Bolivar were also awarded grants from RCORP to address neonatal abstinence syndrome in the communities.

Neonatal abstinence syndrome is a condition where an infant goes through withdrawal from a drug, and one of the most common causes is when a pregnant person uses opioids during their pregnancy.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Awards 2023

The Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome Award is a three-year program designed to help treat and care for opioid exposed newborns and bolster wraparound family and social supports.

“As well as addressing substance use disorder in individuals who are parenting age, pregnant postpartum to really address that kind of full system of care and reduce the incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome,” Meacham said.

She added it’s important for funds to go directly into smaller, rural communities – who may have additional barriers connecting people with care.

“Even though the population might be smaller, a lot of times because of the smaller population, the challenges are more pronounced,” Meacham said. “So transportation, you know, the distances to get to care. There's lower patient volume, so there's maybe less incentive for certain providers, specialty provider-types to practice in those areas.” 

Both groups will receive $500,000 each year for three years.

Rebecca Smith is a reporter and producer for the KBIA Health & Wealth desk. She was born and raised in Rolla, Missouri, and graduated with degrees in Journalism and Chemistry from Truman State University in May 2014. Rebecca comes to KBIA from St. Louis Public Radio, where she worked as the news intern and covered religion, neighborhood growth and the continued unrest in Ferguson, MO.
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