$250k announced to combat opioid crisis in 11 Indiana counties

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TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) – $250,000 in grants have been announced in an effort to combat the opioid crisis in 11 Indiana counties.

According to IN.gov. 1,118 opioid related deaths occurred in 2017.

That estimates to 17 deaths per 100,000 residents statewide.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Indiana averages eight more deaths per 100,000 residents compared to the rest of the United States.

The Duke Energy Foundation on Tuesday presented the grants to Ivy Tech Community College and Hamilton Center.

“As a corporate citizen we felt like it’s our responsibility also to step up to the plate and to invest in the communities and the individuals who help our workforce,” said Duke Energy Vice President of Community Relations Marvin Blade.

Ivy Tech is receiving $175,000 to educate and prepare specialists in addiction and mental health. A press release says the college will work with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce’s Better Health Wabash Valley initiative to connect students with health care providers and businesses for work-study programs in addiction and mental health.

“Ivy Tech has robust nursing, health science and human services programs, including addiction studies. Each of these credentials earned grows the regional workforce skilled to assist those suffering from mental health and addiction-disorders,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College. “In fact, some Ivy Tech students experience many of these same challenges, and we have a longstanding partnership with Hamilton Center to provide services and improve lives in the Wabash Valley.”

Ivy Tech Chancellor Lea Anne Crooks said this grant money will also go towards scholarships for students who may not be able to afford courses within the programs aimed at addiction services.

“This will allow them to increase their workload as far as classes and get into the workforce quicker,” she explained. “The quicker we can get them as addiction specialists in the community, the quicker we are able to work with those in addiction and solve the issue.”

Hamilton Center, Inc. is receiving $75,000 for a pilot program. The program is described as helping those with an opioid use disorder who are unemployed or want to remain the workforce, while seeking treatment for their substance use disorder. Funds will be used for employment assistance and treatment.

“People in recovery need the opportunity to work and be productive employees and citizens, and private/public partnerships like this can certainly assist in addressing community needs,” said Melvin L. Burks, Hamilton Center’s chief executive officer.

The grants focus on an 11-county region that includes Vigo, Clay, Gibson, Greene, Hendricks, Knox, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan and Vermillion counties.

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