Skip to main content

November 16, 2018– Northern Kentucky University’s Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) recently received a $200,000 federal grant to address the opioid epidemic in rural Kentucky. The Health Resources and Service Administration’s (HRSA) grant will support expanding interventions for opioid misuse in Owen County, Kentucky.

The IHI will also use the funds to develop innovative approaches for health related workforce development in Owen County which could serve as blueprint for other rural communities. Owen County has one of the highest risk rates for drug overdoses in the region – combined with very limited treatment facilities and multiple barriers to accessing them.

Rx Abuse panel

“We are excited to maximize the resources of NKU and its commitment to population health to leverage national best practices and regional collaboration to close gaps in opioid use disorder services and expand early intervention and access to treatment and support in Owen County”, says Dr. Valerie Hardcastle, IHI executive director and vice president for Health Innovation. “This multi-pronged approach to opioid use disorder will significantly impact not only Owen County, but our entire region.”

Additional partners for the project include Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Three Rivers Health District, Owen County Schools, Owen County Drug Prevention Coalition and NorthKey, Owen County’s designated community mental health center.

The IHI opened earlier this year to develop pioneering solutions to the health challenges facing the region. It drives change that directly addresses urgent unmet health needs. It is housed in NKU’s newest building on campus, the Health Innovation Center.

This project 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 no percentage financed with nongovernmental sources. The contents are those of the recipient institution and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About the Health Resources and Services Administration: The HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services located in North Bethesda, Maryland. It is the primary federal agency for improving access to health care services for people who are uninsured, isolated or medically vulnerable.          

About NKU:  Northern Kentucky University is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018! Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 14,000 students served by more than 2,000 faculty and staff on a thriving suburban campus near Cincinnati. Located in the quiet suburb of Highland Heights, Kentucky—just seven miles southeast of Cincinnati—we have become a leader in Greater Cincinnati and Kentucky by providing a private school education for a fraction of the cost. While we are one of the fastest growing universities in Kentucky, our professors still know our students' names. For more information on our 50th, visit