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Institute for Health Innovation Expands Opioid Recovery Programs in Rural Kentucky

NKU Expands Opioid Recovery Programs
in Rural Kentucky

institute health innovation

Aug. 6, 2020 —  Northern Kentucky University’s Institute for Health Innovation (IHI) launches the Carroll and Owen County Partnership Expansion (COPE), a strategic plan for addressing the opioid epidemic in rural Kentucky.

COPE is supported by a $750,000 federal grant NKU received this spring to help reduce opioid overdoses for those who come in contact with law enforcement or are involved in the criminal justice system within high-risk rural communities.

Throughout the pandemic, overdose rates have nearly doubled across the Commonwealth, and over half of all arrests in Carroll and Owen counties are drug related. The university will begin implementing COPE over the next 18 months, with an emphasis on developing sustainable and metric-driven programs to enhance a lasting recovery from substance use.

“We are excited to come together collectively to assist individuals in a tangible way by getting them where they need to be to get the help they need,” said Dan Brenyo, COPE Executive Team member and Community Programs Administrator, Owen County Public Transit. “We heard loud and clear that this is a top need for individuals in our rural counties.”

carroll and owen county partnership expansion invite with counties highlighted

The strategic plan includes forming an overdose fatality review team to work with regional partners and increase access for treatments and recovery programs. COPE will also support youth prevention and education programs in Carroll County Schools. A Care Coordinator and Reentry Specialist are being hired to help connect individuals with social services and recovery support in both counties.

The Bureau of Justice Assistance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the State Justice Institute, and the Institute for Intergovernmental Research awarded the funds to NKU.

Additional primary partners for COPE include: Three Rivers District Health Department, Triad Health Systems, NorthKey Community Care, the Northern Kentucky Office of Drug Control Policy, Owen County Emergency Medical Services, the Carrollton Police Department, the 15th District Court and the Department of Corrections Reentry Services.  

NKU’s Institute for Health Innovation continues addressing the many layers of health challenges in our communities. Since its inception in 2018, IHI has received $4.35 million of federal grant funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Service Administration and Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s RIS i6 Challenge.

For more information or to get involved in COPE, contact NKU’s Program Director Nancy Costello at (859) 572-5964.

About NKU
: Founded in 1968, we are a growing metropolitan university of more than 15,000 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, visit