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August 23, 2019

More than $1.1 million awarded to ‘fight’ opioid crisis in Garrett County

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Representative David Trone (all D-Md.) announced yesterday that nearly $1.17 million in federal funding has been awarded to “fight” the opioid and addiction epidemic in Garrett County.

Stand Together Garrett County Against Drug Abuse consortium will receive $1 million, and the Western Maryland Health Care Corporation, which oversees Mountain Laurel Medical Center, will get $167,000.

“Garrett County has been hit particularly hard from the opioid epidemic, with the rural nature of the county making access to services to address substance use disorder limited,” the lawmakers’ press release noted.

Stand Together will use its funding to “implement a comprehensive community plan to reverse the trends of substance abuse in the county,” according to the release.

“The Garrett County Health Department received the Rural Community Opioid Response Program grant on behalf of the grassroots consortium Stand Together Garrett County Against Drug Abuse,” stated Bob Stephens, Garrett County health officer. “This organization is comprised of a group of passionate and caring individuals who genuinely care about those who have a substance abuse disorder, their families and the young people whom we hope never use a substance. Each person brings their skills and expertise to the table and together this Garrett County community is working towards ending the stigma of substance abuse.”

The Western Maryland Health Care Corporation was awarded its federal funding through the Health, Resources and Services Administration as part of the Integrated Behavioral Health Services program.

The other Western Maryland entities receiving $167,000 grants were the city of Frederick, Tri-State Community Health Center in Hancock and Walnut Street Community Health Center in Hagerstown.

According to Van Hollen, Cardin and Trone, the funding will help health centers increase access tho high-quality integrated mental health and substance abuse disorders services, including opioid addiction.”

“The opioid epidemic is ravaging our communities, and health centers are on the front lines of combating this scourge,” said Van Hollen, a member of the Budget and Appropriations committees. “This funding will give our community much needed resources to treat people impacted by addiction — ultimately pulling them back from the brink and putting them on the path to a healthier life. It is just one part of the federal effort to tackle this public health crisis, and I will keep fighting until we end this epidemic,”

“Despite some progress and a lot of hard work, the opioid epidemic continues to devastate communities in Western Maryland and nationwide,” said Cardin, a senior member of the Senate Finance Health Care Subcommittee. “What gives me hope are the innovative strategies I’ve witnessed around Maryland to serve individuals with the combination of services they need to ultimately overcome addiction. These federal funds will support our hardworking and dedicated local health centers in furthering that effort.”

HRSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that provides health care to people who are geographically isolated and/or economically or medically vulnerable. This funding was possible through passage of the fiscal year 2019 Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.