Johnson County A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition awarded $200,000 federal grant

MOUNTAIN CITY — A Johnson County organization established to eliminate substance abuse problems in the county has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the federal government. 

The Health Resources and Services Administration within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has announced its second installment of Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning grants.

One of the grants went went to A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition. Trish Burchette is the executive director of the organization. She said that when the coalition was founded, it focused on health promotion and asset building among youths, their families and the community to prevent adverse behaviors, particularly those leading to substance use disorders.

Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor was pleased with the announcement that the coaltion received the grant He praised both the organization and Burchette’s efforts.

“First of all, I am very proud of the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition for their dedication to end the opioid problem we face in Johnson County. Trish Burchette and her staff have worked very hard on this grant, so I am very pleased to hear they have received the $200,000. The funds from this grant can really make a difference in our county and I am sure the A.C.T.I.O.N. Coalition will do some remarkable things with this grant.”

Burchette listed several mission’s for the coalition. Among them, she said, was “to help Johnson County become free from substance abuse/misuse/abuse.”

She said another goal of the coalition was “to strengthen the economy, families, and community of Johnson County through elimination of substance abuse disorders.”

Another mission for the organization is “to be a community leader and provide resources and a pathway out from addiction.”

Burchette said the coalition has several goals, which she listed:

• Improving access to and recruitment of new substance use disorder providers.

• Building sustainable treatment resources.

• Establishing cross-sector community partnerships.

• Implementing new models of care.

• Cultivating strong county, state, and regional-level partnerships.

The federal press release said the grants were focused toward rural communities to address disparities that plague communities attempting to eradicate substance use disorder.

The grant awards go toward developing local stakeholder partnerships, conducting needs assessments, and developing plans to implement and sustain prevention, treatment, and recovery interventions.

“RCORP-Planning is part of a multi-year initiative by HRSA to support treatment for and prevention,” HRSA Administrator George Sigounas said. “The goal is to reduce the morbidity and mortality of the diseases in high-risk rural communities.”

“Rural communities continue to face several challenges in accessing ... prevention, treatment, and recovery services,” Tom Morris, associate administrator for the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, said. “Over half of rural counties nationwide lack a provider who is waivered to prescribe buprenorphine” (a medication used in combination with therapy to help people reduce or quit their use of opiates).

Rural communities also face workforce shortages, geographic barriers, limited treatment infrastructure, and stigma associated substance use disorders.