SUU Receives $1 Million Grant to Combat the Opioid Crisis

Published: August 20, 2019 | Author: Southern Utah University | Read Time: 2 minutes

center of health and mental wellnessSouthern Utah University has been awarded a federal grant to help battle the Opioid epidemic impacting rural America. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) through the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) awarded nearly $1 million to SUU’s Utah Center for Rural Health. This investment will enable the HRSA-funded rural organizations to establish and expand access to integrated substance use disorder and mental health services.

The award supports HHS’s Five-Point Opioid Strategy, introduced under President Trump in 2017. The number of patients receiving medication-assisted treatment (MAT) for opioid addiction at HRSA-funded health centers increased 142 percent from 2016 to 2018 and the number of patients receiving buprenorphine, a common form of MAT, has increased 28 percent over the last four years.

“Health centers and behavioral health providers are on the front lines of the fight against the opioid crisis and substance abuse, especially in rural communities,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “With our evidence-based strategy, HHS is working to support local communities in fighting back against substance abuse, and our united efforts are yielding results. Together, we can end our country’s opioid crisis and lay a foundation for a healthier country where every American can access the mental healthcare they need.”

80 rural consortia received RCORP-Implementation awards of $1 million each to implement a set of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities.

At SUU, the Utah Center for Rural Health received a one-year planning grant from HHS to develop a consortium in three Utah counties that are among the nation’s most vulnerable. The three counties, Carbon, Emery, and Beaver, have suffered tremendously with the opioid crisis. The consortium created brought together rural entities with the support of statewide organizations working on these issues. That planning grant established the Utah Rural Opioid Healthcare Consortium that has convened rural summits over the past year, assisted healthcare providers achieve training and built networks of resources for rural community members.

“The grant will give the Consortium the necessary funding over the next three years to better equip rural healthcare providers and organizations to help provide services equal to what patients may find in urban areas,” states Rita Osborn, executive director of the Center for Rural Health and principal investigator for the grant. “For example, transportation is a huge barrier for our rural patients. Some of this grant will provide transportation vouchers. Another area of improvement will be the training of peer coaches who support patients recovering from substance abuse.”

“HRSA programs play a key role in the Trump Administration’s efforts to battle the nation’s opioid crisis,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Tom Engels. “From implementing and expanding substance use disorder services at HRSA-funded health centers to increasing support and training to our nation’s behavioral health workforce to improving access to treatment in rural areas, today’s announcement demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to ending this crisis.”

To learn more about HRSA’s work combating the opioid crisis, visit HRSA’s Opioid Crisis page or

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