The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded nearly $3 million for Arkansas community health centers to combat the opioid epidemic. Recipients include a Pine Bluff program, according to a news release.

Funds are from the Health and Human Services’ Expanding Access to Quality Substance Use Disorder and Mental Health Services program.

U.S. Sens. John Boozman and Tom Cotton, along with U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, French Hill, Steve Womack and Bruce Westerman announced the funding in a news release Sept. 19.

Funding recipients are:

Pine Bluff - Jefferson Comprehensive Care System, $110,000; Portland - Mainline Health Systems Inc., $285,000; Ratcliff - River Valley Primary Care Services, $285,000; Springdale - St. Francis House NWA Inc., $285,000; West Memphis - East Arkansas Family Health Center Inc., $285,000; Augusta - ARcare, $298,250; Clarendon - Mid-Delta Health Systems Inc., $284,904; Corning - 1st Choice Healthcare Inc., $285,000; Hampton - Cabun Rural Health Services Inc., $285,000; Marshall - Boston Mountain Rural Health Center Inc., $285,000; Mena - Healthy Connections Inc., $285,000.

“Community Health Centers have long been on the frontlines of the opioid epidemic,” Boozman said. “Throughout this escalating crisis, they have played a vital role in addressing the mental and behavioral health needs of those seeking treatment, no matter the circumstances. In spite of the growing number of patients with opioid use disorder, they have expanded services to meet the needs of the communities they serve. Their efforts to implement effective treatment, recovery and prevention methods are critical in addressing this crisis. This funding will support the implementation of care that will help turn the tide of opioid epidemic.”

Cotton said improving access to treatment and recovery services must be a component in the strategy to defeat opioid addiction in Arkansas.

“This welcome funding will allow our community health centers to continue administering critical treatment for substance abuse and often-associated mental health problems,” Cotton said.

Opioid addiction is a national crisis with no geographic or demographic boundary, according to Crawford.

“Addiction treatment is often difficult to access and administer in rural America due to lack of infrastructure and funding. Our Community Health Centers serve some of our most vulnerable populations and this critical grant will bolster and expand the work they are already doing to battle this epidemic,” Crawford said.

“Across Arkansas, tearful families have told me their stories about how the opioid crisis has personally affected them, which is why I’m especially pleased to hear that our Arkansas community health centers will receive more funds to combat this epidemic,” Hill said. “We can’t let another Arkansas family be devastated by this crisis, and with legislation and community-wide effort, we can help fight this tragedy hurting the ones we love.”

“The opioid abuse epidemic knows no boundaries. This deadly crisis requires aggressive action on all fronts, and these grants will support those struggling with addiction to find recovery. By equipping our local, on-the-ground experts with the resources they need to implement treatment and rehabilitation programs, we will help save lives and end this scourge,” Womack said.

“Access to treatment and recovery is vital in our fight against the opioid epidemic in the Natural State. These grants to community health centers across Arkansas help meet the needs of patients in all corners of the state, saving lives and giving those suffering with addiction hope for a brighter future,” Westerman said.