PALMER — Baystate Wing Hospital announced grant awards of $30,000 to two local community agencies following an FY 2021 legislative earmark to focus on prevention and treatment of opioid-related substance-use disorders in the communities served by the hospital.
Opioid and substance-use disorders were identified as significant health needs in Baystate Wing’s 2019 community health needs assessment.
These grant investments were made possible following an earmark in the FY21 state budget by state Rep. Todd Smola to support public-health-related programs and initiatives that reduce health disparities, promote community wellness, and increase access to prevention, treatment, recovery, and referrals for people with opioid and substance-use disorders in the hospital’s service area.
“I know how important it is to provide critical resources to our community-based organizations to carry on the work of battling substance use and addiction,” Smola said. “As we move out of the pandemic, the impact of the ongoing opioid crisis continues to motivate my work in the Massachusetts House of Representatives on behalf of my constituents.”
Programs supported by the hospital’s grant investments include the Western Massachusetts Training Consortium ($22,000) and the Wilbraham Police Department ($8,000).
The Western Massachusetts Training Consortium funding will help provide an enhanced recovery-support network to the region and improve access to harm reduction and multiple pathways to recovery services. The consortium will use its unique Recovery Coaching program and community partnerships to support local efforts to reduce the opioid death rate, decrease stigma, and increase safety for opioid users in the region.
“We are so grateful that Representative Smola has joined with other compassionate and responsive legislators who have been championing community-led efforts to address the opioid epidemic,” said Kristel Applebee, executive director of the consortium. “This funding will go a long way to help us channel the energy that is already so strong among the communities in the Baystate Wing service area, and connect those who have faced marginalization, oppression, or otherwise felt invisible with equitable recovery supports. We want to make sure everyone knows about the Ware Regional Recovery Center.”
The Wilbraham Police Department, one of the first Hampden County members of the Hampshire Hope DART program, conducts follow-up visits after every overdose, Narcan administration, and involuntary committal. The department will utilize funding to assist patients and families with support, collaboration with outside entities, safe planning, and the reintegration and reunification process.
“Our physicians, nurses, and staff all strive to improve the health of the people we serve through exceptional care and innovative health initiatives,” said Molly Gray, president and chief administrative officer for Baystate Wing Hospital. “We are grateful for the earmark made by Representative Smola to help us increase access to prevention, treatment, recovery, and referrals for persons with opioid and substance-use disorders in [our] service area. We are proud to partner with these area agencies to help us do this important work together to improve the health and well-being of our community.”