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Two Rural Counties Get Grant Money To Fight Opioid Addiction

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – An unlikely federal agency is trying to make a difference in rural areas of Utah to battle the opioid epidemic.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s office of Rural Development in Utah is providing nearly $400,000 in grant money, specifically to help curb the struggles in two Utah counties.

“Agriculture is the foundation of most of these rural communities and rural counties,” said Randy Parker, the director of rural development for the USDA in Utah.

Even though life seems to mover slower on the farm, it’s also a place where help for opioid addiction can be hard to come by.

“Seventy-four percent of farmers, ranchers and those that are employed in agriculture have been personally impacted by abuse or misuse of opiates,” Parker added.

When President Donald Trump announced last fall a new federal effort to fight the opiate crisis, local USDA rural development leaders started talking with local officials in rural Utah to look for solutions.

One critical need was identified – ambulances equipped to treat overdose patients.

“Because they are so isolated a lot of times to get to hospitals, it is a longer drive than what we have along the Wasatch front,” he said.

The grant appropriates money for two rural areas – the Sevier County and the east side of Carbon County – to get an ambulance with equipment to handle drug related emergencies. Carbon County will receive $110,000, and Sevier County will get $80,000.

In Price, $150,000 is earmarked for a detox and sober living facility to benefit patients in Carbon County, serviced by Four Corners Community Behavioral Health, along with $46,000 to transport rural patients to treatment facilities in their service area.

“Almost $400,000 in grant money that will be matched with the community’s portion or non-profit’s to help them meet critical needs,” said Parker.

He said when it comes to drug addiction, it takes a widespread approach, especially with limited resources in these hard hit rural communities.

“Ambulances equipped for opiate overdoses can help save lives, and that is what this is about,” Parker said.


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