Community group secures funding for recovery trainers to help fight addiction in West Michigan


MUSKEGON, MI — The Muskegon Health Project will be able to offer more support to those struggling with addition in the area thanks to a $15,000 grant from a Michigan insurance provider.

UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Michigan awarded a total of $75,000 in community grants this month to three organizations focused on improving maternal and child outcomes and addressing substance abuse across Michigan.

The health project, which is Mercy Health’s community health partner, received funding “to train community health workers and recovery coaches to support and provide connections to medical and community resources for patients who have received medication-assisted therapy by an emergency department or physician,” according to a press release.

Medication-assisted therapy is used to treat substance use disorders, as well as to support recovery and prevent overdose.

The Muskegon Health Project describes itself as working “to improve the lives of the people of Muskegon County, Oceana County, and western Michigan by providing free care support, advocacy, and access and services.” health for those who need it.

Judy Kell, manager of the Muskegon Health Project, said funding for UnitedHealthcare is extremely important because she doesn’t have a lot of money for training in her budget. She said the organization has been around for 25 years.

“It’s what we call the Community Benefit Ministry for Mercy Health Muskegon and Saint Mary’s in Grand Rapids, so we’re a regional entity that promotes addiction treatment services,” she said.

“We are thrilled that UnitedHealthcare is providing us with a grant so that we can help patients in West Michigan who need a recovery coach, outpatient treatment, and wraparound services while they are on their journey. to recover from addiction.

Kell said the grant will cover worker training, which is costly due to the license, with workers required to be clinically oriented for 500 hours (about 3 weeks) before being certified. As a result, she said it ensures she has a worker on staff who can provide supervision.

According to the US Health Rankings, Michigan continues to experience a high prevalence of mental distress. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says reported overdose deaths in Michigan increased 11.5% from May 2020 to May 2021.

The Southeast Michigan Community Foundation originally provided a grant five years ago to several Trinity Health hospitals in Michigan, including Mercy Health Muskegon and St. Mary’s in Grand Rapids, Kell said, allowing patients to receive buprenorphine, an evidence-based treatment for opioids. -use disorders and connect them to resources after they have stabilized in the emergency department.

The organization began considering cross-training health care workers as recovery coaches shortly after receiving the southeast Michigan grant, Kell said, about it becoming a reality in the summer. last.

The bulk of United HealthCare’s funding will go to the MiOUD program, which implements the use of a standard opioid treatment protocol to train recovery coaches at The Health Project HUB.

In 2018, of the 2,599 drug overdose deaths, 2,036 deaths were opioid-related, according to data from the Michigan Opioid Partnership website.

The other two scholarship recipients were:

  • Birth Detroit – Serve Detroit; $30,000 to provide postpartum and doula support, transportation and childbirth education to families in Birth Detroit.
  • Black Mothers’ Breastfeeding Association – Serving Detroit: $30,000 to support a community doula training course that will provide expectant mothers with better opportunities to access trained doulas in the Detroit metro area.

“UnitedHealthcare is committed to addressing health disparities that exist in Michigan and is committed to removing barriers that contribute to poor maternal outcomes and addiction,” said Dennis Mouras, CEO, UnitedHealthcare Community Plan of Michigan. “We are honored to support organizations that are focused on improving the health of our communities by increasing access to essential care.”

To learn more about the project, visit their website. For more information about the opioid crisis and how to support treatment, visit the Michigan Opioid Partnership website.

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