April 02, 2019
Senator Roy Blunt moderated a Sunday discussion on efforts to combat the opioid epidemic in Missouri during a visit to Rolla’s Your Community Health Center. Blunt highlighted that Missouri received $28 million last year to address opioid abuse with another $10 million in federal grants recently awarded. During his comments, Blunt emphasized the importance of mental health and behavioral health treatments as a solution to the crisis. He added that federally-qualified health centers, like Your Community Health Center, play an important role in making such interventions more available to the public.
“It’s always good for me to sit down with the people on the front lines of the community health center effort and understand how they are dealing with different healthcare issues through their services,” Blunt said to Phelps County Focus after the forum ended. He added he sought a stop in Rolla due its regional impact in south-central Missouri and importance as a healthcare hub in the rural Ozarks.
“I’m making several visits to community health centers to see how we are doing on the mental health side and how they are becoming a bigger part of the overall health care system,” Blunt said. “I think they’ve always been under counted in terms of the availability and impact they have on the lives of families. I’m a big backer of community health centers. I lead the community health center caucus in the Senate and am usually the sponsor of legislation as it effects them.”
Your Community Health Center’s medical staff and leadership team were among the forum’s participants Sunday. Numerous elected officials from Phelps County and across the region made up most of the audience. The topics ranged from potential criminal justice reform to offering more medication-assisted therapy to those suffering from opioid abuse disorder.
“We feel blessed to have Sen. Blunt’s support for health centers, and for all of the continued funding to continue our opioid treatments,” Your Community Health Center CEO Kelly Miller told The Focus. “He is truly invested in what is happening at the ground level and not just focused on the bigger cities. As a smaller health center, it means a lot to know what we are doing is slowly gaining traction and being noticed. We have the opportunity to make a real impact in our service area. It’s a good feeling to know that federal and state level support is there to help our efforts.”
The Sunday opioid epidemic forum is one of several community conversations Your Community Health Center is conducting across a three-county area of Crawford, Dent and Phelps counties. Similar meetings have already been held in Cuba, Salem and Steelville. Two are planned for Phelps County beginning next week. St. James will host the next community conversation at 5:30 p.m. April 9 at the Meramec Regional Planning Commission, located at 4 Industrial Drive. Rolla’s meetings will take place at 5:30 p.m. April 11 and April 23 at the TKD Foundation, located at 700 North Park Street.
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