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Home » Uncategorized » Feds fund further opioid response in New Mexico

Feds fund further opioid response in New Mexico


Wednesday, December 16, 2020; Silver City, NM: The Center for Health Innovation received additional federal funding to transform the efforts of New Mexico’s rural southern counties’ opioid response planning efforts into actions thanks to a grant from the U.S. Health Resources and Service Administration (HRSA).

New Mexico’s Public Health Institute, the Center for Health Innovation (CHI) was recently awarded the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP) Implementation grant.

Totaling $1 million in funding over a three-year period, CHI received New Mexico’s only RCORP implementation grant of 90 awarded in the nation this year. The funding will strengthen and expand services for substance use disorder (SUD), including opioid use disorder (OUD) prevention, treatment, and recovery.

“We know that rural communities have been devastated by the epidemic with greater rates of overdoses than their urban counterparts,” said CHI Program Director Alisha Herrick, MPH.

Herrick coordinated last year’s RCORP planning efforts that brought together community leaders and frontline healthcare workers from 16 southern counties to examine the OUD services available in the region and created plans to strengthen the healthcare infrastructure and workforce.

“While the whole state of New Mexico lacks sufficient resources for OUD treatment, southern, rural communities were particularly harmed. Every community in southern New Mexico has been effected,” Herrick noted.

“There isn’t in-patient opioid use disorder treatment in Catron, Sierra and Socorro Counties,” observed Jackie Muncy, a public health worker for New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Health Promotion Team who has worked in the region for 15 years.

“A person grappling with a substance use disorder faces a real challenge to navigate the system in rural areas,” said Muncy noting to access treatment in counties people must travel more than 100 miles to where treatment and recovery services are located.

“We need something we can call our own,” added Muncy. “Many of us are out in the middle of nowhere – isolated – and there are options we can do to help individuals take part in treatment and recovery programs, but the options have to be accessible and culturally appropriate.”

According to CHI Executive Director Susan Wilger, “The RCORP planning grant allowed for an extensive and comprehensive needs assessment, which led to a strategic plan, workforce plan and sustainability plan that reflected the priorities of those communities.” These plans are available at the nonprofit’s website:

With the plans, CHI successfully applied for the implementation grant which includes efforts to enhance prevention, treatment and recovery services in 14 rural counties: Catron, Chaves, Cibola, De Baca, Eddy, Grant, Hidalgo, Lea, Lincoln, Luna, Otero, Roosevelt, Sierra, and Socorro.

“We believe the plans will strengthen the rural behavioral health system throughout the region,” said Wilger. “The strategies we proposed will be piloted in limited number of counties, and over the three-year period will provide good information on how the communities’ efforts can be successful and replicated throughout New Mexico.”

The strategies to be piloted include best practices to integrate clinical treatment teams with certified peer support, behavioral health workforce development, and improve access to treatment and recovery services with culturally and linguistic appropriate workers and programs.

“We really do need to be mindful of not just delivering a service, but it needs to be tailored to the clients in the  southern rural part of the state,” added Herrick.

Part of grant will monitor and review the best practices for methamphetamine, fentanyl and heroin use and overdoses. “New Mexico still has highest rate of overdose deaths anywhere west of the Mississippi River in 2018, the most recent year we have data available,” Herrick said. She added that though New Mexico has dropped from leading the nation in overdose deaths to 15th place in recent years, the drop is largely due to significant increases in other states’ overdose deaths, which have surpassed New Mexico’s high rates.

“While the data makes things appear they aren’t as bad as they used to be, we really need to increase access to services for those struggling with substance use disorder,” said Herrick.

“This grant provides funding for the behavioral health workforce and includes primary care options to provide services for treatment. Also, it will improve infrastructure and career pathways to enhance career development and to better finance the system to retain these jobs,” Herrick sums up the implementation grant’s future efforts.

“There are always differences, because every county is unique, but we know there are significant shortages in the rural areas of the state,” said Wilger. “Culture and language barriers differ, for example the needs in Lea County differs from Luna County, but we hope the implementation strategies have some benefit for all rural counties.”

For more information on the RCORP grant contact Herrick at (575) 597-0031 or email or visit

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 $1 million 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.