Feds award $1.7 million to 11 Utah health centers to fight opioid addiction

The new cash is part of the Trump administration’s efforts to address addition, overdose crisis, particularly in rural areas.

(AP file photo) Portion of the label for OxyContin pills, a common prescription opioid. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on Thursday it was awarding nearly $200 million in grants to 1,178 health centers — including 11 in Utah — to help battle surging opioid addiction, particularly in rural areas.

Federal health authorities have awarded $1.8 million to 11 health centers across Utah in hopes of widening residents’ access to substance-abuse and mental-health services in light of surging opioid addiction.

Described as part of the Trump administration’s response to the crisis, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) grants announced Thursday will deliver between $122,000 and $175,000 in one-time cash to each of the 11 Utah centers, the agency said.

HHS said the new money is meant to expand treatment, prevention and awareness of opioid abuse in primary care settings by hiring more personnel, providing training and using health-information technology more effectively.

“No corner of our country, from rural areas to urban centers, has escaped the scourge of the opioid crisis,” HHS Secretary Tom Price said in a statement. 

Nearly 24 people died each month in Utah in 2015 from prescription opioid overdoses, according to Utah Department of Health data. Utah ranked seventh in the nation for drug overdose deaths From 2013 to 2015.

Grant recipients in Utah include:

  • Bear Lake Community Health Center in Garden City.

  • Carbon Medical Service Association in East Carbon.

  • Community Health Centers in Midvale.

  • Green River Medical Center in Green River.

  • Midtown Community Health Center in Ogden.

  • Mountainlands Community Health Center in Provo.

  • The Paiute Indian Tribe in Cedar City.

  • Southwest Utah Community Health Center in St. George.

  • Utah Navajo Health System in Montezuma Creek.

  • Utah Partners for Health in Midvale.

  • Wasatch Homeless Health Center in Salt Lake City.

Through HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), more than $200 million was awarded to 1,178 health centers nationwide. HRSA Administrator George Sigounas said boosting services at health centers increased the odds of reaching those in dire need.

"In health centers, where people are often most comfortable,” Sigounas said in a written statement, “staff with varied expertise have a unique opportunity to provide mental health and substance abuse services to patients who wouldn’t otherwise seek or have access to treatment.” 

Another $3.3 million was also being awarded, HHS said, to study the unique challenges of rural communities in combating opioid deaths, including longer emergency response times and a lack of access to providers of substance-abuse treatment.