Jefferson County health improvement program receives $1M grant

Federal funding aims to support opioid and behavioral health treatment, recovery

PORT TOWNSEND — Jefferson County’s Community Health Improvement Plan has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to continue work with the Behavioral Health Consortium.

The grant will support the strategic plan of the Behavioral Health Consortium (BHC) to focus on efforts for opioid and behavioral health treatment and recovery.

The funding comes from a Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Implementation grant that is awarded by the federal Health Resources and Services Administration.

The grant period runs from Sept. 1, 2020 to Aug. 31, 2023, said Lori Fleming, co-chief executive officer of the Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP), in a press release.

Fleming submitted the grant application in May and the organization was recently notified, she said in an interview Tuesday.

Fleming and co-CEO John Nowak were relieved to get the grant, but now they have three years to implement the funds into results.

“It was a lot of relief when we found out, but also kind of a ‘What the heck did we just get ourselves into?’ ” Nowak said.

CHIP has received other grants in the past, but this one is the largest and longest running, Fleming said.

The grant is focused on strategies that improve prevention, treatment and recovery for opioid and behavioral health patients, Fleming said.

“The BHC has identified several initiatives that take a comprehensive look at what originally began as an exploration to establish the feasibility of a crisis stabilization center,” Fleming said.

“While that exploration is still ongoing, this grant’s funding also allows us to enact several strategies to move the county’s behavioral health-related interactions to ever earlier intercept points.

“There are multiple benefits to connecting an individual with programs or services before they are at a crisis point: prevention improves the lives and outcomes for individuals, families and our community as a whole, and at the same time, reduces the use of costly law enforcement and EMS services.”

The BHC is comprised of representatives from 12 different groups who were brought together and overseen by CHIP, as it works to address the need for improved opioid and behavioral health treatment that was identified through the CHIP program, Fleming said.

The BHC includes the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Institute, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Believe in Recovery/Gateway to Freedom, Jefferson Healthcare, Discovery Behavioral Healthcare, Port Townsend Police Department, East Jefferson Fire Rescue, Recovery Cafe, Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Safe Harbor/Beacon of Hope and Jefferson County Public Health.

“It’s really impressive that we have this group of people that are at this table every month,” said Fleming, elaborating on how it has been good to have behavioral specialists, care providers and law enforcement together in the conversations.

“We have a nice comprehensive group of people,” Fleming said. “Putting that group together is a huge win for this county.”

The BHC and CHIP are developing specific road maps to assist people through the process of recovery through the different services the county has, as well as working on developing new ways to better serve the community, Fleming said.

The grant was applied for and is stewarded by CHIP, but the consortium members will be working together on the various ways to implement the funds, Fleming said.

More information regarding CHIP can be found at behealthyjefferson.com.

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Jefferson County reporter Zach Jablonski can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone at 360-385-2335, ext. 5.

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