Health First 9 27PROVIDENCE, Ky. (9/2717) — Health First Community Health Center announced it was one of 20 health centers in Kentucky to receive an award from Health Resources and Services Administration last week. The Access Increases in Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services grant will distribute more than $200 million throughout the U.S. for health centers to increase access to substance abuse and mental health services.

Health First was awarded more than $174,000 to combat this national health epidemic, health officials said.

“The burden of mental disorders and addiction in rural western Kentucky is significant and growing,” said Health First CEO LeAnn Langston. “This affects the overall wellness of individuals, families, and our communities. At Health First, we focus on coordinating primary care and mental health so that we may reach more people in crisis. The AIMs funding will enable us to expand on these efforts to meet the growing need.”

Health First will use AIMS funding to place a greater focus on the treatment, prevention, and awareness of opioid abuse and mental health issues in the primary care setting. This includes increasing personnel, leveraging health information technology, and providing training. Additionally, funding will be used for greater community outreach specific to mental health issues.

"Nationally, about half of all care for common mental health conditions happens in the primary care settings," said HRSA Administrator George Sigounas, MS, Ph.D. "In health centers, where people are often most comfortable, staff with varied expertise have a unique opportunity to provide mental health and substance abuse services to patients who wouldn’t otherwise seek or have access to treatment.”

The AIMS funding is part of HRSA’s five-point strategy to fight the opioid epidemic which includes improving access to treatment in the primary care setting, increasing use of overdose-reversing drugs, improving understanding of the drug epidemic and implementing new research aimed at improving pain management.

Health First Community Health Center strives to serve as a focal point in the region for increasing access to primary care and improving health regardless of financial status. Through compassionate, evidence-based care, the Health First team offers hope and assistance for all they serve. Since its inception in 2010, Health First CHC has grown to include eight locations in Calhoun, Clay, Earlington, Henderson, Owensboro, Princeton and Providence.

SurfKY News
Information provided by Sara Spencer

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