(PLAINFIELD) – Indiana’s largest electric supplier is helping address opioid addiction in Indiana — a problem in too many of the communities it serves.
The Duke Energy Foundation announced today $250,000 in grants to tackle unique aspects of the issue.
Ivy Tech Community College will receive $175,000 to educate and prepare a pipeline of specialists in addiction and mental health to combat the crisis. Ivy Tech is pairing with the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce’s Better Health Wabash Valley initiative to raise awareness of mental health and addiction issues and connect students with health care providers and businesses for work-study programs in addiction and mental health.
Meanwhile, Hamilton Center, Inc., a regional behavioral health system in central and west central Indiana, will receive $75,000 for a pilot program to help those with an opioid use disorder who are unemployed or want to remain in the workforce while seeking treatment for their substance use disorder. Funds will be used for employment assistance as well as comprehensive treatment.
“This grant is a perfect example of private and public sectors partnering to making a real impact for rural Indiana,” said Governor Eric J. Holcomb. “Some of our state’s best assets are collaborating to support two of our priorities: skilling up our workforce and tackling the drug epidemic. I look forward to seeing this grant help Hoosiers.”
The grants focus on an 11-county region including Vigo, Clay, Gibson, Greene, Hendricks, Knox, Owen, Parke, Putnam, Sullivan and Vermillion counties.
“Five Hoosiers die from drug overdoses every day, most of it opioid-related,” said Duke Energy Indiana President Stan Pinegar. “As I visit the places we serve, I hear firsthand from our community leaders about how this crisis affects their workforce and families. Clearly there is a link between good health and economic well-being, and that’s the focus of this project.”
Congressman Larry Bucshon, whose district includes the grants’ region of focus, stated, “In our communities across Indiana and the nation, opioid abuse and addiction is raging and leaving families broken and communities in crisis. The only way we are going to end this crisis is for federal, state and local leaders to work together with treatment facilities, physicians, and others to ensure that we’re putting in place the resources and policies to make a difference and turn the tide. We are fortunate to have clinics and programs in west central Indiana that are working tirelessly to help our friends, family members, and neighbors recover from addiction, and this generous grant awarded by the Duke Energy Foundation will go a long way in battling the opioid epidemic in west central Indiana.”
While addiction plagues the rich and poor alike, lower-income and medically underserved areas need more access to treatment and trained addiction specialists. The 11-county region identified in this grant has areas of urgent need.
“Ivy Tech has robust nursing, health science and human services programs, including addiction studies. Each of these credentials earned grows the regional workforce skilled to assist those suffering from mental health and addiction-disorders,” said Sue Ellspermann, president of Ivy Tech Community College. “In fact, some Ivy Tech students experience many of these same challenges, and we have a longstanding partnership with Hamilton Center to provide services and improve lives in the Wabash Valley.”
Funding from the Duke Energy Foundation will provide scholarship support and work-and-learn opportunities for students to pursue certificates and degrees in nursing or addiction studies and enter the fight against addiction. Ivy Tech offers these programs throughout the Wabash Valley area at its Avon, Greencastle, Bloomington, Terre Haute, Rockville, and Linton campuses. To apply for all Ivy Tech scholarships, visit ivytech.edu/scholarships.
In some cases, the cost of addiction treatment is a barrier. The Hamilton Center’s grant funds treatment for those who can’t afford it, while helping those who are in treatment find employment — or keep the jobs they have. There’s also a need to educate employers on the benefits of opioid treatment programs and the employability of those in recovery.
“People in recovery need the opportunity to work and be productive employees and citizens, and private/public partnerships like this can certainly assist in addressing community needs,” said Melvin L. Burks, Hamilton Center’s chief executive officer.
Hamilton Center Inc. opened a state-licensed opioid treatment program called WIN Recovery, Western Indiana Recovery Services, in Terre Haute in May 2018. Clinics in Knox and Hendricks counties are scheduled to open by year-end.