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Aetna Foundation announces $1 million in grants to Florida programs as part of next step in fighting opioid epidemic

April 25, 2018 | Community

As a next step in its ongoing commitment to fighting the opioid epidemic, the Aetna Foundation has announced $1 million in grants to the Florida Alcohol Drug Abuse Association (FADAA).

Garth Graham, M.D., MPH, president of the Aetna Foundation, was joined by officials from the FADAA, Florida Hospital Association, Aetna clinical leaders, and members of Congress for the announcement. The grants will help FADAA grow existing programs aimed at providing support for those impacted by opioid abuse when they need it most.

The announcement follows similar-type grants in Pennsylvania and North Carolina, which are part of the Foundation’s $6 million commitment to empowering organizations and governments agencies best able to identify and enact change in states hardest hit by the opioid crisis.

Florida’s announcement occurred during a Capitol Hill briefing in Washington, D.C. which included honorary co-hosts and Florida Congressional members Sen. Bill Nelson, Rep. Gus Bilirakis and Rep. Stephanie Murphy.

“Every community impacted by the opioid epidemic faces a unique struggle,” said Dr. Graham. “From the need to integrate services, to data collection and grass roots support, we’re seeing local organizations create new solutions to tackle the crisis. It’s our hope that our support will give them the boost they need to turn the tide in their communities.”

With the Aetna Foundation’s support, FADAA will enhance and expand programs that address behavioral health and community support:

  • All in For Florida: The ER Intervention Project – Through a strengthened connection between hospital systems and community-based behavioral health programs, this project aims to provide opioid abusers with access to treatment services at a time when there is a great opportunity to intervene and address the addiction.

  • All in for Florida: A Recovery Project – This program will help transition informal networks of recovery groups across Florida into accredited Recovery Community Organizations. FADAA, in partnership with the Peer Support Coalition of Florida Initiative, hopes to build stronger connections between a wide range of services for those recovering from addiction.

“Emergency room visits present a critical moment for intervening in an opioid overdose. With closely integrated resources we can help prevent addicts from slipping back through the cracks,” said Mark Fontaine, executive director of FADAA. “These grants will help us create a bridge from Emergency Rooms to treatment facilities for those experiencing an overdose and provide comprehensive services for this vulnerable population.”

This support comes at a critical moment as the opioid epidemic is having a grave impact in Florida, one of the hardest-hit states. The state experiences an overdose death every 2.5 hours and opioid-related hospital costs topped out at more than $1.1 billion in 2015. Across the U.S., more than 42,000 people die each year from opioid overdoses.

“The opioid epidemic is sweeping through our nation, destroying many families and communities along the way, and we must form a united front to stop it,” said Rep. Murphy. “I’m pleased to see the public and private sectors working together to increase access to quality health care for those affected and ensure that our communities are provided with the resources needed to combat this epidemic. The opioid crisis is one that weighs heavily on our collective conscience and I’ll continue working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to deliver solutions.”

Said Rep. Bilirakis: “The link between crisis care and follow-up treatment is critical to a patient’s long-term recovery. Similarly, I have heard amazing testimonials about the power of peer support programs. Strengthening these efforts through improved coordination will undoubtedly improve patient outcomes. Both of these initiatives will be vital as Florida seeks to combat addiction through a multi-tiered, patient-centered approach.”

Read more information on the announcement.

The grant to FADAA follows two additional Aetna Foundation grants which benefitted the Pennsylvania Department of Health and its Opioid Data Dashboard, and the North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition and its “Rural Opioid Overdose Prevention Project.”