In New Wave of Funding, FORE Awards $333,642 to Organizations Expanding Access to OUD Treatment and Recovery Support Services During the PandemicJuly 23, 2020
Today we announced six new grants to support organizations that are responding to the increased risks individuals with opioid use disorder face during the pandemic as traditional models of treatment and recovery support are upended.
This funding is part of our COVID-19 National Emergency Response, aimed at expanding access to recovery programs and supporting policy research that evaluates the impact of temporary changes in policy during the pandemic, including relaxed telehealth regulations.
As elaborated on Our Grantees page, the six organizations include the Addiction Policy Forum; Ballad Health; the Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics; RAND Corporation; Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey; and the University of North Carolina (UNC) Health Sciences at Mountain Area Health Education Center (MAHEC).
The Addiction Policy Forum will be expanding access to recovery services in criminal justice settings, such as drug courts and diversion programs, through its Connections mobile app, which includes evidence-based behavioral health interventions shown to improve outcomes. The tool will be customized to high-risk populations and offer services that would otherwise be unavailable due to the pandemic’s shuttering of many in-person recovery programs.
Ballad Health will use the funding to expand its PEERhelp program, which currently provides virtual recovery resources through a phone “warmline.” Ballad Health also plans to offer more weekly virtual recovery meetings for residents in Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia and will be creating opportunities for individuals volunteering for its warmline to become certified as peer recovery specialists. Ballad Health will also partner with local jails to bring these services to incarcerated persons and provide opportunities for them to be trained as peer specialists and be certified upon release.
The Illinois Association of Free and Charitable Clinics (Illinois Association) and UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC, which both received support prior to the pandemic, will use this additional funding to ensure their programs can succeed in the COVID-19 era. The Illinois Association will be supporting the implementation of telehealth services at free clinics, while UNC Health Sciences at MAHEC will use the funding to provide training and support to providers at community health centers working to develop and implement programs offering medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD).
RAND Corporation will be conducting a qualitative study of telemedicine-based treatment programs. By exploring the scope of services offered, possible barriers to treatment, and providers’ future plans, this study will generate insights and lessons for providers who have not yet adopted telemedicine. The longer-term goal of this study is to guide policy decisions about opioid use disorder treatment and care delivery beyond the current public health emergency.
The grant to Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, will enable researchers to analyze Medicaid data and interview opioid treatment providers to see how relaxed prescribing regulations for MOUD and delivery adaptations, including increased telemedicine usage, longer methadone take-home doses, reduced drug screening, and reduced in-person counseling, have affected access to care and outcomes.
The grants add to the more than $10 million FORE has awarded to organizations fulfilling a mission to advance patient-centered, evidence-based solutions to the opioid crisis. Additional funding in response to the pandemic is anticipated over the coming months.