Suspected opioid overdoses and deaths continue to rise in Arizona. The total number of deaths (counted since 2017) jumped 55 percent in the past three months, from 1,645 in Aug. 2018 to 2,547 in Nov. 20181. In an effort to accelerate the fight against the opioid epidemic, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) has awarded nearly $1 million through the Mobilize AZ grant program to seven local organizations involved in education, treatment, and recovery.
Through its Mobilize AZ initiative BCBSAZ is investing $10 million dollars over three years to turn the tide against the misuse of opioids and other substances. This first round of funding has been awarded to:
- Arizona Poison Control and Drug Center: $149,600 to provide free opioid education and training to the public, consultations with certified genetic counselors for pregnant or breastfeeding women, and to support providers by expanding access to care and treatment for community members.
- Keogh Health Connection: $168,806 to launch the Community Health Worker (CHW) Program Pilot that serves to better coordinate and provide access to care and treatment options for patients, as well as health education sessions for patients, families, and community members.
- Jerry Ambrose Veterans Coalition: $150,000 to provide treatment and recovery services to veterans with addiction issues.
- Sonoran Prevention Works: $137,763 to engage hard-to-reach Arizonans at risk of overdose, with an emphasis on jail and pregnant populations. The grant will provide overdose prevention materials to communities such as fentanyl test strips, as well as transportation and other social services for individuals to access recovery resources.
- Grant funds will be distributed to Health Management Associates for a statewide medication-assisted treatment survey, COPE Community Services, Inc. to close a treatment gap for patients in a skilled-nursing facility, and Parents of Addicted Loved Ones to help families and communities across the state better navigate the journey of a loved one’s addiction and provide support services.
“The support from this grant will allow Sonoran Prevention Works to fill in a huge gap in our service delivery system—a low-barrier intervention to link people who use drugs to medical and treatment services—while providing the necessary data to continue similar programs across Arizona,” said Haley Coles, the co-founder and executive director of Sonoran Prevention Works. “BCBSAZ has allowed us to create a long-term positive change for individuals, their families, and communities, while reducing the current revolving doors of detox, treatment, jails, and emergency departments.”
BCBSAZ is accepting proposals for Mobilize AZ grants from nonprofit organizations, academic institutions, and for-profit organizations that are seeking resources to further efforts and turn the tide against substance misuse. Grant applications are accepted on an ongoing basis, and organizations can visit MobilizeAZ.com to begin the formal request-for-proposal process.
“Many organizations are doing great work to help combat the opioid epidemic in Arizona, and with more funding they will be able to help more residents, prevent substance misuse, and provide more access to treatment and care,” said Pam Kehaly, president and CEO of BCBSAZ. “These grants and our financial investment into this significant matter will promote better health for all Arizonans.”
Beyond the numbers, which rise daily, is the economic and societal toll, including the devastation of families. There are people, and those who love them, behind each of these numbers, with stories of loss and fear. The misuse of opioids crosses age, race, class, gender, politics, and neighborhoods. BCBSAZ believes this is an all-of-us problem that requires an all-of-us solution. Every Arizonan can make a difference — whether that’s knowing the five things to help prevent misuse, asking for help, or supporting a loved one.
Visit MobilizeAZ.com to learn more, get involved, and apply for grants.
- Source: Arizona Department of Health Services
About Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona
Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona (BCBSAZ) is committed to helping Arizonans get healthier faster and stay healthier longer. With a focus on connecting people with the care they need, BCBSAZ offers health insurance and related services to nearly 1.5 million customers. BCBSAZ, a not-for-profit company, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. The company employs nearly 1,500 people in its Phoenix, Chandler, Flagstaff, and Tucson offices. Through advanced clinical programs and community outreach, BCBSAZ is moving health forward. To learn more, visit azblue.com.