A local university received its largest academic grant of $1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration to fight opioid misuse.
Ferris State University was one of 89 national recipients that received funding for a multiyear initiative by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to reduce substance-related morbidity and mortality in high-risk rural counties. Ferris State will use the HRSA grant to fight opioid drug misuse in Mecosta, Newaygo and Osceola counties.
The three counties are regularly ranked as having the highest opioid prescription rates and the poorest health behaviors in the state. Of Michigan’s 83 counties, Mecosta was ranked 67th, Newaygo was ranked 55th and Osceola was ranked 78th.
According to 2018 data, the annual prescribing rate for opioids nationally was 51.4 prescriptions per 100 persons. Mecosta (69.9), Newaygo (88.5) and Osceola (51.9) counties exceeded the national rate.
The $1 million grant is a continuation of a 2019 $200,000 HRSA grant for the FSU Opioid Task Force, which was founded in 2016, to fund the planning for a consortium, the Central Michigan Recovery and Education Network (CMREN).
CMREN consortium members include leaders from Ferris State University’s College of Health Professions, College of Pharmacy, the Michigan College of Optometry and the College of Arts and Science’s Social Work program, as well as Spectrum Health Big Rapids-Reed City District Health Department No. 10, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan and several affiliate agencies in the region.
“This grant allows Ferris State University to build partnerships within the three-county area of Mecosta, Newaygo and Osceola over the next three years and beyond as we strive to address the treatment, education and recovery needs for this noble and much-needed work in substance use disorder and opioid use disorder in our communities,” said Gail Bullard, associate professor and director, College of Health Professions.
Bullard will serve as the project director.
Since 2016, Ferris State University has engaged partners in the community that are involved in the prevention, treatment and recovery of substance use disorder.
“Through our planning, we have determined there is a great need to connect community partners in this field and share awareness with the public regarding the options that exist for prevention, treatment and recovery,” said Scott Sexton, assistant professor, College of Pharmacy, who will serve as principal investigator. “By increasing collaboration, number of services provided and access to care, our goal is to reduce the number of deaths caused by substance use.”
Various organizations have joined CMREN and they include Area Health Education Center – Mid Michigan, Families Against Narcotics, Family Healthcare, Michigan Center for Rural Health, Michigan Opioid Prescribing Engagement Network, Sisters of Sobriety and Ten16 Recovery Services.
“Ferris State and its collaborative partners remain grateful to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Health Resources and Services Administration for its ongoing dedication to combat this drug misuse,” said Stephen Durst, dean, College of Pharmacy. “This ongoing commitment allows us to continue helping the agencies involved in the frontlines of this endeavor.”