Treating the opioid crisis one step at a time | News

Editor’s note: This is the second part of a two-part series regarding the opioid crisis in Corry. Part one was published in the April 30 edition of The Corry Journal.

Angela Morton, consortium director with UPMC Western Behavioral Health at Safe Harbor, is in charge of grant implementation for funds to help those caught in addiction’s downward spiral. A $1 million grant was received through the Hamot Health Foundation (UPMC Hamot), and US Health and Human Services (HHS) to implement the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) to serve women and families of the city of Corry and Venango County.

Morton works with many groups including consortium partners, Pennsylvania State Police at Corry, Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol, LECOM Corry Memorial Hospital and Corry Blue Zones Project.

“People were suffering silently during the pandemic — people didn’t know where to get help,” Morton said. “People didn’t go to a hospital when they thought they might be experiencing an overdose out of fear of hospitals being overrun or having to take a COVID test.”

While the pandemic panic has subsided, those with addiction still face the fear of being stigmatized for their condition. A major facet of RCORP is reducing stigma, which is the key to getting people the help they desperately need.

“Until we reduce stigma and increase compassion, until people know that there is somewhere they can turn to get help, then they will suffer silently and maybe continue on that path instead of reaching out to get help when they know there are people that care, ” Morton added.

Anyone who feels they need help in overcoming a drug or alcohol addiction can walk into Gaudenzia drug and alcohol, located in Corry Counseling, 45 E. Washington St., or LECOM Corry Memorial Hospital Emergency Room, 965 Shamrock Lane, and ask for an assessment .

“Gaudenzia and LECOM can help arrange an assessment,” Morton said. “A lot of times people will say they can’t get treatment because they don’t have insurance and don’t know how they’d pay for it. They can often get treatment regardless of their ability to pay. Even somebody who has insurance can provide income information and the county can work to help offset that cost.”

What does treatment look like?

A level of care assessment would determine whether a person needs outpatient counseling to support them through their recovery, intensive outpatient counseling multiple times per week, or an inpatient detox program or medically monitored rehabilitation facility.

“It’s important for people to know that there is no fear in doing that assessment, because they can choose whether to accept what is recommended,” Morton said. “What it comes down to is being brave enough to ask for help when you need it.”

A case manager will assist with the non-treatment needs such as transportation to treatment, childcare and connection to a medical provider, to name a few.

“We have some wonderful providers in our community and I am anxious to have new case workers networking so people are aware of the services that will be available to Corry families,” Morton said. “Recovery is beautiful and very, very possible.”

While the grant is aimed specifically at assisting women of child-bearing age, Morton said anybody of any age, gender or background will get support.

“We’re trying to reduce the incidence of babies being impacted by maternal substance use,” she said. “So, yes, the grant is focused on reaching women of childbearing age, whether before they have children, or maybe they are pregnant or have young children and are struggling. We want to help mothers and their children and their partners to get on track and ultimately keep families together.

“We weave it all back full circle that if we keep families together, we reduce childhood trauma of children being removed from their home because of parental substance use. And we’re breaking the cycle.”

For more information, visit recoveryisnwpa.org or visit Corry Counseling, 45 E. Washington St.

For those interested in applying for a job as a case worker in Corry, contact Morton at 814-449-3089.

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