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Home » Uncategorized » Feds fund effort to address opioid epidemic in southern New Mexico

Feds fund effort to address opioid epidemic in southern New Mexico


Monday, May 27, 2019; Silver City, NM: The Center for Health Innovation will begin planning a coordinated response to the opioid epidemic in rural southern New Mexico counties thanks to a recently awarded grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).

The Center for Health Innovation (CHI), New Mexico’s Public Health Institute, was awarded a 2019 Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Planning II grant for $200,000 from HRSA. The awards are intended to implement and sustain prevention, treatment, and recovery services in rural communities for substance use disorders and opioid use disorders.

The funding will target the rural southern counties of Catron, Chaves, Cibola, De Baca, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Roosevelt, Sierra, and Socorro, as well as the rural-designated regions of Torrance and Valencia.

“I feel encouraged because this award will allow us to dive a little deeper to help determine what people think, what would be most useful and how to address gaps in substance use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery services moving forward, and this grant is especially heartening with its rural emphasis,” said Susan Wilger, CHI’s Associate Director.

With the funding, CHI will partner with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) to develop sustainable learning health systems to meet the prevention, treatment, and recovery needs of the rural residents of 16 counties in southern New Mexico. Many of these rural counties lack access to behavioral health and comprehensive primary care services which has hindered efforts to fully address the opioid epidemic.

PIRE is a collective of researchers working to support public health and behavioral health through the implementation of science into policy. “We translate scientific research into practice to make people healthier,” explained Elise Trott Jaramillo, a PIRE Associate Research Scientist.

“Health learning systems are a cutting-edge scientific practice that will be initiated in Southern New Mexico,” said Jaramillo. “The effort will help frontline providers and patients through a continuous cycle of gathering evidence-based information focused on improving health care.”

Wilger said, “CHI will include people with lived experienced by integrating their experience with data and practice to create a system which is culturally appropriate and effective.”

Western New Mexico University (WNMU) is one of the participating institutions in the effort. “This is the first time there is an organized response in the region,” said Jim Helgert, Assistant Professor in WNMU’s Chemical Dependency Counseling program. “We have a set of people and service providers who have ideas and experience with approach, implement and follow through to address substance abuse and opioid disorders.”

“Our effort will have two levels of advisory groups, a state system and policy level committee and a community advisory group. The community advisory group will consist of people from the southern  counties or networked in the region,” added Wilger.

New Mexico received three awards out of the 120 nationally funded Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Planning projects. Other New Mexico awardees were Santa Fe Recovery Center located in Santa Fe, and the Capacity Builders located in Farmington.

For more information on the award please contact Wilger at (575) 597-0039 or email:

This news release is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $200,000 with zero percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.