RICHMOND, Va.- The state of Virginia has received $4.9 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help with its fight against the opioid epidemic.
The two, one-year grants will be used by the Virginia Department of Health and the Department of Forensic Science.
According to officials, $4,050,277 will go towards strengthening the state health department’s emergency response to the opioid epidemic, which includes incident management for early crisis response, recovery, surveillance data collection, surge management and countermeasures and mitigation.
DFS will receive $948,000 in equipment and supplies from the CDC, which will benefit the department’s toxicology section. The goal is to incorporate new instrumentation to automate the preparation of samples at each of the four DFS labs. The automation should reduce the time required for sample preparation for cocaine and opioid testing from six hours to two hours. The grant will also provide DFS with fentanyl derivative reference materials that are required for a new method that will increase the comprehensiveness of toxicology testing, enabling DFS to provide more information on the concentrations of fentanyl derivatives in postmortem cases, officials said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) announced that two Virginia organizations have received nearly $500,000 in federal funds to expand access to health care services for patients in rural and underserved areas through the use of telemedicine.
“Communities across Virginia have been hit hard by opioid abuse. Too often, those seeking treatment for addiction struggle to get the medical and mental health care they need. Expanding access to telehealth services is a critical way to expand treatment and recovery options, especially in more rural areas of Virginia,” said the Senators.
The Bay Rivers Telehealth Alliance has received $226,554 to expand access to opioid abuse treatment for the Middle Peninsula, Northern Neck and Eastern Shore of Virginia. In the area, demand for opioid treatment services exceeds the capacity of available mental health providers. The funds will be used to purchase video conferencing equipment and telemedicine carts to expand treatment options for over 18,000 rural residents.
The funds were awarded through the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Office of Rural Development.
Last week, President Trump signed into law a bipartisan substance abuse treatment bill, the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act, which included provisions authored by both Senators to improve the quality of addiction recovery programs and expand access to addiction treatment through telehealth services.