Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program
- Need: To reduce deaths due to opioid overdose in rural southeast West Virginia.
- Intervention: The Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program trained and certified first responders, healthcare staff, and laypeople in naloxone administration.
- Results: From October 2018 to September 2021, the program provided direct education to 638 individuals, trained 821 providers, and distributed 4,023 Narcan kits.
According to 2019 CDC data, West Virginia had the highest rate in the country of deaths due to drug overdose, with an age-adjusted 52.8 deaths per 100,000 people. Community Connections, Inc., a nonprofit corporation in rural Princeton, West Virginia, works to reduce these deaths through the Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program (formerly called Project Renew). This project provides community education, distributes opioid overdose kits, and facilitates provider trainings.
The Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program serves the rural counties of McDowell, Mercer, and Wyoming, which were among the top 6 counties in the state for number of overdose deaths.
Through funding from a 2015 Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) Rural Opioid Overdose Reversal Grant, a program coordinator became a Certified Naloxone Trainer and was able to train and certify first responders, healthcare staff, and laypeople. Through 2017 funding from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Rural Health Opioid Program, Community Connections, Inc. and coalitions are expanding the delivery of opioid-related healthcare services.
Services provided through the current HRSA grant:
- Provide direct and indirect education to community members, healthcare providers, law enforcement, and first responders
- Distribute Narcan kits
- Facilitate provider training
- Build Quick Response Teams (QRT) in each of the three counties
- Participate in Regional QRT meetings
- Facilitate coalition trainings
QRTs are modeled after initiatives in Burlington, Kentucky; Colerain Township, Ohio; and Huntington, West Virginia.
Services provided during the 2015 FORHP grant:
- Trained first responders on naloxone use
- Provided education to first responders and law enforcement
- Provided layperson certification and Narcan distribution
- Distributed information cards called "rack cards" to first responders
- Distributed "Are you at risk for opioid overdose?" cards to healthcare facilities
From October 2018 to September 2021, the Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program provided direct education to 638 individuals, trained 821 providers, and distributed 4,023 Narcan kits.
- Community-wide denial or minimization of the opioid problem's severity
- Few resources like public transportation and behavioral health facilities
- Geographic isolation
- Lack of job opportunities and subsequent poverty
- Overwhelmed social services
Bring all the key stakeholders to the table:
- What infrastructure, if any, is currently in place?
- Are there existing resources you can leverage?
- What will you need to grow this program?
- What might the barriers be in your community?
- What will the budget look like?
- How will your stakeholders fit this work into their schedules?
The West Virginia Bureau of Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, the federally designated state authority for mental health and substance use, released an initiative (1.844.HELP4WV) at the same time that the Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program received the FORHP grant. The bureau told the program coordinator that anyone who called the HELP4WV number would be guaranteed a bed in a treatment facility.
Contact InformationBeth Bailey, Program Director
Community Connections, Inc.
Community and faith-based initiatives
Health workforce education and training
Illicit drug use
Prescription drug misuse
July 17, 2017
Date updated or reviewed
December 7, 2021
Suggested citation: Rural Health Information Hub, 2021. Community Connections, Inc. Rural Health Opioid Program [online]. Rural Health Information Hub. Available at: https://www.ruralhealthinfo.org/project-examples/962 [Accessed 28 May 2023]
Please contact the models and innovations contact directly for the most complete and current information about this program. Summaries of models and innovations are provided by RHIhub for your convenience. The programs described are not endorsed by RHIhub or by the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy. Each rural community should consider whether a particular project or approach is a good match for their community’s needs and capacity. While it is sometimes possible to adapt program components to match your resources, keep in mind that changes to the program design may impact results.