Baptist Health Corbin gets $1 million grant to help fight substance abuse by pregnant women and youth in Whitley, Knox counties

Baptist Health Corbin has received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to fight opioid and substance abuse, mainly among pregnant women, in Whitley and Knox counties.

The three-year grant, which launched Sept. 1, will also help youth and people seeking emergency treatment for conditions related to substance abuse-related conditions, a news release said. The effort will include Cumberland River Behavioral Health, a long-time partner of the hospital.
“With the pandemic, more people than ever are susceptible to overdose deaths and suicide,” Chris Holcomb, Baptist Health’s assistant vice president of behavioral health and former executive director of behavioral health at Baptist Health Corbin, said in the release.
“Substance abuse, particularly opioid abuse, has skyrocketed in the communities we serve,” Holcomb said. “Overdoses that involve opioids have more than tripled in the last 20 years. The overdose rate by county in this area is nearly three times higher than the national average. We want to use our resources to support patients with education, prevention and treatment.”

Baptist Health CEO Gerard Colman said the nine-hospital group “has long had a focus on behavioral health and planned to intensify those efforts even before the covid-19 pandemic compounded other major life stressors that make the vulnerable even more at risk of turning to drug use to overcome anxiety.”

The chain has expanded its telehealth program, which can be especially helpful for patients with transportation issues or other barriers to seeking treatment. The program consists primarily of videoconferencing sessions between a health-care or mental-health professional and a patient.

“Baptist Health Corbin was an early telehealth pioneer, starting in 2016, as transportation and the geography of the region are considered barriers to accessing care,’ the release says. “The service area is mountainous and navigating secondary roads is difficult and time consuming. Inclement weather conditions in the winter frequently force the closing of local schools due to road conditions.”