Grant awarded to OU to create new opioid workforce project

ATHENS — The Appalachian Ohio Opioid Workforce Expansion project award was made to Dr. Deborah Henderson, director of Ohio University’s School of Nursing (SON), for $1.35 million. The grant was awarded through the United States Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.

Co-investigators on the grant are Drs. Char Miller and Sherleena Buchman of the School of Nursing in the College of Health Sciences and Professions (CHSP); Kerri Shaw, Drs. Mingun Lee and Terry Cluse-Tolar in CHSP’s Department of Social Work; Orman Hall, CHSP executive in residence; and Drs. Yegan Pillay, Mona Robinson, Adrienne Erby and Bilal Urkmez in the Department of Counseling and Higher Education in the Gladys W. and David H. Patton College of Education.

Designed to increase the number of professionals with interprofessional skills, CHSP will work with the College of Education to expand the number of behavioral health professionals educated in interprofessional teams through classes and clinical experiences.

“The grant team is excited to collaborate with our graduate students and partnering community behavioral health organizations to increase the number of behavioral health providers for the region,” Henderson said.

The grant will apply in the counties of Athens, Hocking, Jackson, Meigs, Perry, Ross, Vinton and Washington. These counties were chosen in part because of their higher-than-average drug overdose rates. Meigs County has the third highest overdose death rate in the state while Hocking, Perry and Jackson also have significantly higher rates than the national average, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“These counties need assistance, and The Patton College’s George E. Hill Counseling Center is pleased to offer its services to our region in this most important work,” said Robinson, director of the Hill Center.

The grant’s work will occur from September 2019 to Aug. 31, 2022.

“This is an incredible opportunity for our faculty to have an impact on the drug epidemic in Ohio,” said CHSP Dean Randy Leite. “This project will give professionals new experiences in addressing substance use disorder and also allow us to train more new behavioral health professionals to aid in combatting the opioid epidemic.”

The grant approval also notes that Ohio University has a strong team of faculty from various disciplines to participate in curriculum development, experiential site expansion and enhanced partnerships with community behavioral health providers.

“The interdisciplinary collaboration between nursing, social work, and counseling and higher education is an innovative and forward-thinking approach to preparing well-trained and versatile leaders in these behavioral health fields,” said Renée A. Middleton, dean of The Patton College of Education. “I am proud that Ohio University — and our colleges — have an opportunity to support our communities in need.”

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $1.35 million. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.