January 17, 2019

Federal award provides funds for Purdue to help Fayette County improve local opioid abuse prevention and treatment

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.  ― As part of the Empowered Communities for a Healthier Nation Initiative (ECI), the U.S. Office of Minority Health awarded the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering at Purdue University $1.1 million to provide three years of guidance and technical support to an Indiana community that has been disproportionately impacted by the opioid epidemic. 

The center’s ECI project ― Empowering a Rural Community to Respond to Prescription Opioid Abuse ― aims to reduce prescription opioid abuse as well as increase patient access to addiction treatment and recovery services. The project’s intervention work already has begun in Fayette County, a rural, east-central Indiana community with one of the highest normalized annual opioid death rates in the state. 

Along with Regenstrief Center, several areas of the university are involved in the ECI project. The center’s Purdue Healthcare Advisors (PHA) industry outreach program will manage the project, which also involves the Center on Poverty and Health Inequities, the Center for Medication Safety Advancement, and the Purdue Agile Strategy Lab. The lab’s Strategic Doing™ tool will be used to help the community collaborate in ways that produce innovative solutions tailored specifically to Fayette County. 

“Community collaboration is one of the main aspects of the project, and it’s an aspect we insist upon when considering this kind of work because we know that enhanced community engagement in rural areas is more likely to spur more effective, locally relevant approaches, from crafting awareness campaigns to building strategy for the early identification of opioid abuse to the secure disposal of opioid medications,” Regenstrief Center director Paul Griffin said. 

Several stakeholders have partnered with Purdue on the ECI project, including Fayette Regional Health System, the Fayette Health Department, and two local behavioral health groups: Meridian Health Services and Centerstone. The Fayette County Drug Coalition, which includes area law enforcement, local governance, retail pharmacies, schools and other social services, has joined the project, as well. 

“Short on health care professionals and medically underserved, Fayette County and other, similar rural communities are at a disadvantage when it comes to the growing opioid epidemic. Here, capacity to treat those who have become addicted to prescription opioids can be outstripped by demand,” said Katrina Norris, Fayette Regional Health System’s vice president of Behavioral Health and Addiction Services. “We welcome initiatives designed to empower our patients and their families, clinicians, pharmacists, organizations and leaders to come together to make the improvements necessary to effectively combat prescription drug misuse and abuse.” 

Along with community collaboration, the project will address prescriber training; pharmacist instruction; building treatment capacity; and patient empowerment. “Our aim is to empower patients to adhere to treatment through thoughtful provider-patient collaboration and by evoking the patient’s own needs and goals. We do this by training the clinicians to employ a counseling method called Motivational Interviewing,” Griffin said. 

Clinicians will use PHA’s microlearning tool kCards ― which delivers content to learners in small, specific bursts ― to develop their Motivational Interviewing skills. They will learn how to work with patients to help them develop habits to avoid or de-escalate opioid addiction as well as to adopt clinically appropriate, non-medication approaches to managing pain. In addition, they will become familiar with the National CLAS Standards that provide a blueprint for implementing culturally and linguistically appropriate services. 

To enhance patient flow and increase capacity for time-sensitive addiction services in Fayette County, PHA will help hospitals, clinics and provider practices there leverage existing staff, exam rooms, supplies, and other resources through lean, process-improvement training.

To increase awareness of responsible prescribing practices, PHA will oversee prescriber training and pharmacist instruction with assistance from Altarum Institute, an accredited, non-profit Michigan-based organization. PHA also will train clinicians on prescription tracking as well as the screening and diagnosis of opioid misuse. 

PHA will work with local retail pharmacies to increase naloxone availability by training pharmacists on the Indiana State Health Commissioner’s statewide standing order. This order allows doctors with prescriptive authority to issue a written order that naloxone be distributed by designated people, such as trained, harm-reduction program employees or friends and family members of the substance abuser, when predetermined conditions have been met. Family and friends also be trained on the use of naloxone. 

The final goal of the project will be to disseminate best practices for the prevention and treatment of addiction epidemics to other rural communities throughout the Midwest. 

About Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering

The Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering is part of Discovery Park at Purdue University and serves as a national nucleus for driving high-impact improvement in healthcare delivery by mobilizing the intellectual strengths of Purdue faculty and partners. Its applied arm Purdue Healthcare Advisors (PHA) is a not-for-profit outreach initiative created in 2005 to serve the training, project facilitation, and assessment needs of thousands of independent practices as well as hundreds of hospitals/healthcare systems striving to increase cost savings as they better the patient-care environment. 


Paul Griffin, Ph.D., Director of the Regenstrief Center for Healthcare Engineering, St. Vincent Health Chair of Healthcare Engineering, and Professor of Industrial Engineering; (765) 496-7395; paulgriffin@purdue.edu

Katrina Norris, LCSW LAC HS-BCP, VP of Behavioral Health and Addiction Services, Fayette Regional Health System, (765) 827-7960 

Media Contact:

Jeanine Parsch, Managing Advisor-Communications & Marketing, Purdue Healthcare Advisors; (765) 447-7047; jeanine@purdue.edu

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