Regional collaboration nets major funding for addiction treatment

Published 11:21 am Friday, March 29, 2024

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When Frontier Health and East Tennessee State University’s Addiction Science Center (ASC) established the Regional Recovery Ecosystem Advisory Council (RREAC) in 2022, its goal was to prioritize opportunities to strengthen addiction recovery in the region.

From the beginning, the RREAC included elected officials, leaders from recovery community organizations, Ballad Health and the First Tennessee Development District.

Members of the RREAC spent much of the last year working on a coordinated effort to secure grant funding to address gaps in the region’s recovery ecosystem, a term that describes the factors in a community that support individuals in recovery from substance use disorder.

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On March 18, they learned their efforts were successful – securing an incredible $7.4 million in first-year grant funding from the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council to bolster recovery resources in Northeast Tennessee.  

“Our strategy for securing the funds worked,” said Dr. Robert Pack, ETSU’s executive vice provost and co-director of the ASC, which is housed in the College of Public Health. “Now, it is time for us to shift our focus to ensuring that we maximize the impact of this funding to benefit the most people in our region.”  

Fourteen projects in total received funding, thanks to the coordinated efforts of the RREAC. ETSU received grant funding for 10 projects alone, totaling roughly $4 million. 

Other local organizations receiving funding include:  

– Ballad Health 

– Carter County Drug Prevention Coalition  

– Fairview Housing Management Corporation 

– First Tennessee Development District 

– Frontier Health 

“We are very excited to see that $7.4 million in grants submitted to the Opioid Abatement Council were recently awarded funding in our region,” said Kristie Hammonds, president and CEO of Frontier Health and co-leader of the RREAC.  

“This will add many additional needed resources that were identified as priorities by the RREAC, a regional group of diversified local leaders, community members and provider organizations,” Hammonds continued. “This is a huge win for our region, and we are grateful to be a part of such a passionate, caring community who advocates and works together to grow a healthier community.” 

The funding is part of the first round of community grants from the Tennessee Opioid Abatement Council, which awarded 116 grants to entities across the state, totaling nearly $81 million.   

 “It takes a village to work together to support the individual needs in the continuum of care for our communities. This funding is a testament to the power of collaboration and the collective impact each organization can make in our region’s relentless fight against the opioid crisis,” said Tammy Albright, chief executive officer of Ballad Health Behavioral Health. “Together, we’re not just confronting a challenge; we’re changing lives and shaping the future for generations to come.” 

The grant funding will directly impact those in the region recovering from addiction, something made possible through partnerships between key community partners such as Frontier Health, Ballad Health, ETSU, elected officials and many others.