Southwest Virginia Community Health Systems, Inc. (SVCHS) has been awarded $325,000 in funding from Substance Abuse Service Expansion Awards, granted by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). SVCHS is the only community health organization in Virginia to receive this source of funding for substance abuse services for FY2016. Nationwide, HRSA has announced $94 million in Affordable Care Act funding to 271 health centers to improve and expand the delivery of substance abuse services in health centers, with a specific focus on treatment of opioid use disorders in underserved populations.

Collectively, these awards to health centers across the country will increase the number of patients screened for substance use disorders and connected to treatment, increase the number of patients with access to MAT for opioid use and other substance use disorder treatment, and provide training and educational resources to help health professionals make informed prescribing decisions. The $94 million investment is expected to help awardees hire approximately 800 providers to treat nearly 124,000 new patients.

The abuse of and addiction to opioids, such as heroin and prescription pain medication, is a serious and increasing public health problem. Approximately 4.5 million people in the United States were non-medical prescription pain reliever users in 2013, and an estimated 289,000 were current heroin users. The United States Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) also estimates the number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain medications has nearly quadrupled from 1999 to 2013, and deaths related to heroin increased 39 percent between 2012 and 2013.

“Health centers treat some of the most at-risk patients in the country,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae. “These awards position health centers to be at the forefront of the fight against opioid abuse in underserved communities.”

For a list of all award grantees, visit http://bphc.hrsa.gov/programopportunities/fundingopportunities/substanceabuse/2016awards/index.html.