Northeast Kentucky AHEC Director Participates in USDA Roundtable on Opioid Misuse
David A. Gross, administrative director for education and research at St. Claire HealthCare and director of the Northeast Kentucky Area Health Education Center (NE KY AHEC), was one of approximately 15 people selected to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Kentucky roundtable on rural opioid misuse hosted in Berea on May 9.
The USDA has held three of these roundtables so far, in Pennsylvania, Utah, and Kentucky. There will be two additional events over the summer: Oklahoma in June and Maine in July. The USDA was interested to conduct these discussions in an attempt to raise awareness and better understand what regional communities need to address the opioid epidemic. Key topics have included challenges associated with substance use disorder; strategies for prevention, treatment and recovery; and how these measures can be replicated to effectively address the epidemic in other rural communities.”
Gross was chosen because of his oversight of two opioid-focused grants with the NE KY AHEC. One, funded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration, is providing approximately 15 educational activities (with an emphasis on medication-assisted treatment of opioid use disorder) to more than 400 health care providers and health profession students. The other will bring prescription misuse prevention information to more than 500 high school and college students across northeastern Kentucky. The NE KY AHEC has also applied for a third grant-funded project which is currently under review and which would establish a Regional Opioid Crisis Response Network between St. Claire HealthCare, Gateway District Health Department, Pathways Inc., and Sterling Health Solutions.
“I left the roundtable with an even deeper understanding of just how significant the opioid epidemic is in our state,” Gross said. “But after hearing a variety of possible solutions, I’m even more convinced that our educational activities – in combination with the other strategies that were discussed – have the potential to reduce the burden of opioid use disorder within northeastern Kentucky.”
The NE KY AHEC is one of eight regional centers in Kentucky that have a mission of enhancing access to quality health care services in rural and medically underserved areas. Through their pipeline initiatives, regional AHECs strive to improve the supply and distribution of health care professionals via community and academic partnerships. The NE KY AHEC, hosted by St. Claire HealthCare in Morehead, serves a 17-county region that includes Bath, Boyd, Carter, Clark, Elliott, Fleming, Greenup, Lawrence, Lewis, Mason, Menifee, Montgomery, Morgan, Nicholas, Powell, Robertson, and Rowan counties. For more information on the NE KY AHEC or any of its programs, visit www.neahec.org