Since 2018, Chronic Illness has been a main focus of the IHI's initiatives. As Kentucky continues to rank toward the bottom of heath outcomes in the United States, this focus is critical to addressing population health issues.
Just an hour’s drive from Northern Kentucky University lies Owen County, KY. With just over 10,000 residents, Owen County is a rural area with numerous lakes, streams and rolling ridges. Residents of Owen County are almost 3 times more likely to die of a drug overdose than the rest of the United States (NORC Opioid Community Assessment, 2013 - 2017).
After a year of planning, the Owen County Collaborative Addiction Treatment Initiative launched the Owen County Recovery Services team. Care Coordinator Shanna Osborne works with the community to provide support through recovery. The Care Coordinator built trust with the community, increasing the number of clients served, and help clients navigate the intimidating and confusing process of getting care.
COVID-19 has led to doubling of the number of overdoses in Kentucky’s rural counties. But despite being in a virtual mode, Care Coordinator Shanna Osborne in Owen County connected with over 220 clients this year, referring 140 to treatment for Substance Use Disorder, and transporting many of them personally.
This initiative, co-funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the State Justice Institute, supports a six-month planning phase for 21 sites to identify current gaps in prevention, treatment, and/or recovery services for individuals who encounter the criminal justice system within the target rural service area.
During the 18-month implementation phase, the sites will initiate new activities or augment existing efforts to strengthen epidemiologic surveillance and public health data infrastructure, implement effective community-level opioid overdose prevention activities, and establish or enhance public safety, public health, and behavioral health collaborations. Sites may also elect to leverage funding to expand peer recovery and recovery support services that help people start and stay in recovery.
Carroll County Care Coordinator Yvonne Poe led the Hope Bags project to provide re-entry supplies for people needing assistance. Carroll County Drug Prevention Coalition Coordinator Tammy Barrett-Wolcott and Re-entry Coordinator Donnie Dawes are working with the area schools and the Carroll County Detention Center to provide Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) to struggling youths and detainees.
Kentucky is nearing twice the national average in the rate of drug-related deaths per year and ranks as one of the bottom five states in almost every measure of health and poverty. During NKU’s 2015-2016 academic year, the issue of opioid addiction and the heroin crisis came into sharp focus with the visit of Sam Quinones to our campus. His book, Dreamland: The True Tale of America’s Opiate Epidemic, detailed the scourge of opioid addiction in the United States and spotlighted Northern Kentucky’s own struggle with the epidemic.
After Mr. Quinones’ visit, NKU drew on the strength of its passionate faculty and collaborated with other regional universities, governmental organizations and research and policy institutes to launch the Ohio River Valley Addition Research Consortium (ORVARC) in 2016. On November 10, 2017, NKU kicked off its academic year focus on health inequity with ORVARC’s first conference, which centered on evidence-based research in neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS). In attendance were researchers, advocates and policy-makers, all of whom discussed ways to address the growing addiction epidemic, specifically as it relates to NAS.
The partnership will establish innovative health care practices and technologies for treating patients with rheumatic heart disease (RHD). Children’s is teaming up with nine institutions, including NKU and the Rheumatic Heart Disease Research Collaborative in Uganda, to develop mobile technologies and increase evidence-based care for those living with the disease.
“This project is extremely important in our current environment, and it allows our faculty and students to engage in a large, multi-disciplinary, international research project,” said Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, Institute for Health Innovation executive director and vice president for Health Innovation at NKU. “Our students have opportunities to work on this project locally and in Africa.”
The Institute is currently working with community partners on two research projects to better understand the social determinants of health in the Northern Kentucky Region.
The Institute is working with the probate court in Butler County in Ohio and faculty in the Department of Political Science, Criminal Justice, and Organizational Leadership to determine whether outpatient probate defendants have better health outcomes than those for whom there are no outpatient probate options.
For the second project, the Institute is working with the Cincinnati VA, the Weaver Institute for Law and Psychiatry at the University of Cincinnati, and NKU Chase College of Law to analyze how successful the veterans courts are in the tri-state region at improving healthcare outcomes and reducing recidivism.