Community health center gets federal substance-use grant

Nurses work at Community Health Center of Central Missouri in Jefferson City Wednesday afternoon. The facility was one of four in mid-Missouri to receive a federal substance use treatment grant. (Garrett Bergquist/KRCG 13)

Doctors and administrators at a mid-Missouri community health center on Wednesday said a new grant would help them expand their fight against drug addiction.

Sen. Roy Blunt's office on Wednesday released the winners of a set of opioid grants authorized by the federal spending bill signed in March. Jefferson City's Community Health Center of Central Missouri was one of four community health centers in mid-Missouri to receive a grant for substance use disorder and mental health treatments, a total of $291,250.

CEO Jeff Davis said the grant will let the health center launch services it otherwise could not afford. He said the center plans to use the money to buy a mobile health clinic and hire an additional community health worker.

"We're really just trying to work outside the box and think of new ways that we can deliver services and create additional access," he said.

Behavior Health Services Director Dr. Richard Lillard said the key in fighting substance use and mental health issues is ensuring people who need them are aware of them and can get to them. He said having an extra community health worker will mean more people can get connected to the services the center provides. Lillard said the center can help opioid addiction sufferers with everything from medication-assisted treatment to housing.

"The whole idea of getting this grant just allows us to do so much more in the area of integrated treatment," he said.

In addition to the mobile clinic and the extra staff, Davis said the center will use the grant money to certify more members of its staff to prescribe buprenorphine and other opioid-treatment drugs. He said this would allow someone visiting the clinic for other health services to also take care of addictions rather than getting referred elsewhere.

Three other mid-Missouri community health centers received similar grants. Family Health Center of Boone County in Columbia and East Central Missouri Behavioral Health Services in Mexico each received $285,000, while Sedalia-based Regional Health Care Clinic received $110,000.

Also Wednesday, Blunt's office announced the recipients of rural opioid-response planning grants. Moberly-based Randolph County Caring Community received a $200,000 grant. Rural Mental Health Network Director Chelsea Zabski said the money will go toward a comprehensive response plan. Elements could include providing training for first responders and community partners who regularly come into contact with possible drug users--such as library staff--to administer naloxone, the drug used to counter the effects of a narcotics overdose. Zabski said the goal will be to come up with a plan to implement using future federal grants.

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