Fairview Mesaba Clinics – Hibbing, Nashwauk and Mountain Iron are among eight Minnesota health care organizations to receive grant funding through Minnesota’s new opioid abuse community prevention pilot program.
The grant awards, totaling $700,000, were announced in April by Gov. Mark Dayton. Fairview Mesaba Clinics was awarded $100,000.
The grant funding will support care teams consisting of pharmacists, physicians, social workers, nurse care coordinators, mental health professionals and others to implement tested strategies to reduce opioid use. Project components will range from care coordination and prescriber education to addressing social service needs, developing community partnerships and safely disposing of opioids.
“Fairview Mesaba Clinics have accomplished a great deal over the past 12 months in regards to opioid reduction, and this grant will help us accelerate the pace at which are able to expand the critical work necessary to help bring the opioid crisis to an end in our community,” said Heidi Lahti, Director of Ambulatory Care at Fairview Range. “We believe we have many of the elements already in place to be successful; this grant will allow us to dedicate more time and resources to this work.”
Opioid addiction has had a devastating effect in Minnesota and across the country. Overdoses involving prescription opioids account for more than any other drug, and the great majority of heroin and other illicit opioid users started with prescriptions. According to a press release recently published by Gov. Dayton’s office, in 2016, 395 people died from opioid overdoses in Minnesota, an 18 percent increase over the previous year.
“Our administration is taking aggressive steps to reduce the flow of dangerous opioids, improve treatment options, and save lives. But we must do far more to reduce the terrible harm these drugs are causing in our communities,” said Governor Dayton.
In 2017, the Minnesota Legislature set aside nearly $1 million to establish grants for pilot projects to prevent opioid abuse at the community level. The concept is modeled on a successful program developed by CHI St. Gabriel's Health in Little Falls that has gained national attention as a promising clinical and community-based approach to the opioid public health crisis.
The grant awards were released at the same time as a new set of state guidelines designed to reduce the risk of opioid addiction. The guidelines were developed by a work group of health care providers and community partners and are designed to help doctors and other health professionals decide when to prescribe opioids, how much to prescribe and how to monitor their use.