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$1M grant to benefit substance use response in Clark County

St. Claire HealthCare, on behalf of the Northeast Kentucky Substance Use Response Coalition, was recently awarded a three-year, $1 million, Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Implementation grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

The Coalition, which includes representatives from: Achieving Recovery Together, the Clark County Health Department, Comprehend Inc., the Gateway District Health Department, the Kentucky Rural Healthcare Information Organization, the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center, Pathways Inc., St. Claire HealthCare and Tri-State Primary Care, is one of six Kentucky organizations that were awarded this competitive federal grant.

The service area for this project will include Clark County during year one; Clark and Mason counties in year two; and Clark, Mason and Powell counties in year three.

This funding will allow the Coalition to establish “First Day Forward,” a jail re-entry program that will connect individuals recently released from the Clark County Detention Center and who struggle with substance use disorder to vital community resources in an attempt to give them a true “First Day Forward” following incarceration.

This concept of changing jail re-entry for those who struggle with addiction was created by the Coalition after interviewing inmates within local detention centers as part of an RCORP-Planning grant project.

“We have been working with inmates here in Clark County for a while and have seen firsthand the barriers they face when released,” JuaNita Everman, executive director of the Winchester-based community recovery organization Achieving Recovery Together, said. “There is a desperate need for this re-entry program for Clark County residents. I’m so excited to be a part of First Day Forward, to help someone find hope, and just to show them someone cares.”

Other focuses for the project include youth prevention education to be presented to ninth graders at George Rogers Clark High School, trainings for medical professionals surrounding HIV/Hepatitis C treatment and medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder and other broader community education initiatives such as stigma reduction, naloxone distribution and drug take-back programs.