Spectrum Health Partners on Opioid Prevention Project

Group receives $200,000 grant to fight abuse in Mecosta County

June 11, 2019

BIG RAPIDS, Mich., June 7, 2019 – Mecosta County ranks number one among all 83 Michigan counties in risky health behaviors, including opioid use, according to a recent Robert Wood Johnson Foundation report.

It’s a number one ranking nobody wants, and one Spectrum Health, partnering with Ferris State University, Community Mental Health for Central Michigan and District Health Department #10, plan to change.

Because lives are at stake.

The four entities collectively applied and received a $200,000 Healthy Reasons and Services Administration (HRSA) grant to develop a Rural Opioid Prevention Network over the next year.
The project goal is to develop a plan to reduce the occurrence of opioid use disorder (OUD) from new and at-risk users, as well as preventing opioid-related overdoses.

The federal grant, awarded in May, requires the consortium to assess the services currently in the county and to develop a strategic plan to address any gaps, according to project lead Fathima Wakeel, assistant professor of public health at Ferris State University.

Wakeel said the project will also include discussions with community stakeholders and a review of prevention programs in place throughout the state, especially in rural areas. Ultimately, the team will formulate a sustainability plan to address workforce needs, training and curriculum needed to assist in opioid use prevention.

Wakeel said the organizations have worked together on an opioid taskforce at FSU previously, so the partnership is a natural one.

“Bringing together these four members is really an ideal way of going about prevention,” Wakeel said. “We all recognize that opioid abuse is an issue, and we all know there’s a lot of need, so I think we have an ideal partnership.”

Spectrum Health manager of community education for Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals Scott Lombard agreed.

“The right players are at the table,” he said.

Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital also works with Ten16 Recovery Network in a program where a contracted employee works seven days a week in the emergency department during second shift to identify patients who need substance abuse treatment, Lombard said.

“I don’t think people know how bad it is,” he said.

In the nine months ending in March, the program helped 122 people, with more than 75 patients getting treatment, joining a peer support group or being referred to mental health.

“That changes people’s lives,” Lombard said.

Another related program is the medication and needle take back program which has netted 451 pounds of medication and 260 pounds of needles since August of 2018 from throughout Mecosta, Lake and Osceola Counties. The next medication and needle take back event is June 27 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Big Rapids Hospital lobby.

And while progress is being made, everyone agrees there’s much work yet to be done.

“There is a significant presence of behavioral and environmental risk factors among residents of Mecosta County that are associated with opioid use disorder,” Beth Langenburg, Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City hospitals’ COO said.

“We recognize the lack of available prevention resources within the county and that a successful program requires multiple agencies working in collaboration,” she said.

Langenburg said the group’s goal is to have the plan complete by April 30 of 2020 with hopes of garnering an even larger implementation grant next year.

Catherine Beagle, program director for Community Mental Health for Central Michigan is among the champions for action.

“The reality is we discovered there is a gap in our community to provide services and prevention for individuals who are addicted to opioids,” she said.

Beagle said progress is being made because the collaboration work had begun even before the grant was awarded. The group already worked to fill the need for increased availability of Narcan, a nasal spray to reverse the effects of overdoses.

“When we see a problem, we come together to address it,” she said.

Spectrum Health, a not-for-profit, integrated health system, is committed to improving the health and wellness of our communities. We live our mission every day with 31,000 compassionate professionals, 4,300 medical staff experts, 3,300 committed volunteers and a health plan serving 1 million members. Our talented physicians and caregivers are privileged to offer a full continuum of care and wellness services to our communities through 14 hospitals, including Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, 155 ambulatory sites and telehealth offerings. We pursue health care solutions for today and tomorrow that diversify our offerings. Locally-governed and based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, our health system provided $585 million in community benefit in fiscal year 2019. Thanks to the generosity of our communities, we received $30 million in philanthropy in the most recent fiscal year to support research, academics, innovation and clinical care. Spectrum Health has been recognized as one of the nation’s 15 Top Health Systems by Truven Health Analytics®, part of IBM Watson HealthTM.

John Norton
Communications Specialist
Office: 231.592.4387
Mobile: 231.580.1079
Email: john.norton@spectrumhealth.org