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City of Huntington Awarded Federal Grants to Combat Opioid Epidemic

The City of Huntington has been awarded three federal grants totaling $2 million to provide a rapid response to individuals who have overdosed and to launch a pilot program at the Western Regional Jail that will reduce the recidivism rate of inmates with mental health or substance use disorders.

The grants were spearheaded by the Huntington Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in collaboration with various law enforcement officials, corrections officials, medical care providers, treatment and recovery centers, faith-based leaders and researchers at Marshall University.

Two of the federal grants awarded are for the Quick Response Team (QRT), a multidisciplinary and multifaceted approach to address the opioid epidemic in Huntington. The QRT will be comprised of medical care providers, law enforcement, recovery and treatment providers, and university researchers to respond to individuals who have overdosed within 72 hours.

QRT members will assess an individual’s needs, symptoms and strengths to determine an appropriate plan for intervention, which includes improving access and reducing barriers to recovery and treatment services. Family members will also be engaged in the planning process and screened for their own substance abuse risk level.

QRT members will also provide overdose education, screening, risk-reduction training and naloxone administration training for at-risk individuals, their families and the broader community.

The QRT program was awarded a three-year, $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice and a three-year, $1.05 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health. The Huntington Police Department, Cabell County EMS, Prestera Center, Huntington Treatment Center, Recovery Point, Huntington Black Pastors Association, Marshall University Department of Public Health and the Marshall University Student Health Department’s Wellness Center will partner with the Mayor’s Office of Drug Control Policy in administering the grants.

The City of Huntington also received a three-year, $650,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to implement the Turn Around program, a pilot program at the Western Regional Jail to identify and assess individuals convicted of misdemeanors who have co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders.

Those who have been convicted of misdemeanors and are incarcerated in a regional jail in West Virginia are offered psychiatric services and/or drug detox through the regional jail medical provider, but they are not systematically screened or treated for mental health and/or substance use disorders, meaning they are often released with the issues they had when they were initially incarcerated and are more likely to be incarcerated in the future.

The Turn Around program and Western Regional Jail staff will use data collected to develop a pre-release plan consisting of mental health and substance abuse services and a transition plan upon release that is complete with peer support, wrap-around services and connections to community resources.
Prestera Center, Recovery Point, S.V. and Associates, and the Western Regional Day Report Center will assist in administering the grant.

“Huntington is a proactive community that helps identify solutions related to the opioid epidemic that can be replicated across the country,” Mayor Steve Williams said. “This funding will significantly improve the collaboration, engagement and hope necessary to overcome the epidemic.

“I applaud all of the law enforcement agencies, corrections officials, university researchers, faith-based leaders, medical care providers and treatment and recovery centers that have worked tirelessly to secure this funding,” Williams added. “The City of Huntington also extends our gratitude to our congressional delegation for their unrelenting support of our initiatives.”

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