Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (formerly Greater Delta Alliance for Health Inc.) was recently awarded $750,000 to address opioid use disorder in eight Southeast Arkansas counties.


Funds will address the opioid crisis for the next three years in Jefferson, Arkansas, Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Dallas, Desha and Drew counties, according to a news release.


The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership project was one of 10 organizations across the country to receive the HRSA Rural Health Opioid Grant.


The Arkansas Delta Rural Health Opioid Project is the first behavioral health project for the partnership, an organization of non-profit Arkansas Delta hospitals.


The hospitals include Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Ashley County Medical Center, Baptist Health Medical Center-Stuttgart, Bradley County Medical Center, Chicot Memorial Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Delta Memorial Hospital, DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, Drew Memorial Health System and McGehee Hospital.


The opioid project will expand locally available screening, education, outreach, case management and counseling services for those at-risk or diagnosed with opioid use disorder in the eight counties, according to the release.


The project is a collaborative effort between the partnership and the 10th District Substance Abuse Program New Beginnings, C.A.S.A. (Center for Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment) which will provide behavioral health services in the region.


“We look forward to being a part of the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership, where so many agencies and services are coming together to address each phase of the epidemic, based on individual needs,” Mike Knickerbocker, New Beginnings executive director, said.


New Beginnings works with and receives referrals for treatment from district and circuit courts, the Department of Human Services and the Division of Children and Family Services.


The joint opioid project will begin at the local clinic and will navigate the patient to counseling services provided by local behavioral health experts.


Partnership hospitals and clinics will expand opioid use disorder counseling services by focusing on physician and community education and training to identify individuals at-risk and guide them to recovery. Clients will receive case management at the clinic site as well as counseling services via telehealth with a licensed counselor employed by New Beginnings, according to the release.


“This project brings Southeast Arkansas healthcare organizations, mental and behavioral health organizations, the legal system, and social service organizations together to begin to address these issues we so desperately need to tackle,” Mellie Bridewell, executive director of the rural health partnership, said.


The project also includes building a coalition to address drug abuse in the community. For details about participating in the coalition, contact Mellie Bridewell at 870-265-6553 or gdaharkansas.com.