• 61°

Ohio senator announces $50K for OU

To address workforce shortage created by opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced this week two initiatives designed to combat problems stemming from the opioid epidemic in Ohio.

Brown said on Tuesday that the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has awarded a $50,000 grant to Ohio University for the development of a rural workforce training program.

Brown’s office said a local contribution of $51,684 will bring total project funds to $101,684, and that the program will train skilled workers in communities across Scioto and Lawrence counties who have been affected by the addiction epidemic.

“We cannot write off the Ohioans who struggle with addiction and we cannot write off entire communities,” Brown said in a news release. “This investment ensures Ohio University’s rural workforce training program has the resources it needs to make sure recovering Ohioans have job opportunities to get back on their feet.”

The rural workforce training program is designed to address Appalachian Ohio’s workforce shortage, the result of the addiction epidemic, and will include training in education, healthcare, human services, criminal justice and law enforcement.

The funds for the grant are a part of the USDA’s Rural Development initiative. Brown’s office said he helped secure a strong Rural Development title in the 2014 Farm Bill, and is continuing to advocate for Rural Development programs in the 2018 Farm Bill.

Brown’s office said on Wednesday that the senator has also secured several provisions to help Ohio combat the addiction epidemic in a legislative package currently being negotiated the Senate. This includes Brown’s Caring Recovery for Infants and Babies (CRIB) Act.

Brown introduced the CRIB Act in the chamber with Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-West Virginia, and helped pass it out of the Finance Committee in June. The bill is now part of a larger package to address the opioid crisis that is being negotiated in the Senate.

“We need to get this legislation through the Senate soon, to support the most vulnerable victims of the opioid crisis, and make sure all babies and their caregivers can get care in a setting that meets their special needs,” Brown said.

Brown’s office said the CRIB Act would help newborns suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome, a withdrawal condition often caused by the use of opioids and other addictive substances in pregnant women, and that the bill would allow Medicaid to cover certain health care services provided to infants in residential pediatric recovery facilities in addition to hospitals and also clarify that babies receiving services in residential pediatric recovery centers can continue to receive services after one year of age, and provide for activities to encourage caregiver-infant bonding.

Brown’s office said studies show that cases of NAS have tripled over the past decade. In Ohio alone, NAS increased six-fold between 2004-2011, from 14 cases per 10,000 live births in 2004 to 88 cases per 10,000 live births in 2011. In 2015, the Ohio Department of Health released data that there had been 2,174 hospital admissions for NAS, and reported that an average of 84 infants were being treated for drug withdrawal by Ohio hospitals every day.