Mecosta County Organizations Receive Grant to Tackle Opioid Abuse

Several Mecosta County organizations have received a $200,000 grant to help combat the area’s opioid problem.

A recent report ranked Mecosta County as the top county in the state for risky health behavior including opioid use.

The organizations include Ferris State University and Spectrum Health.

“Opioid use in general in rural areas is in issue. Opioids are more likely to be prescribed in rural areas and a lot of times we don’t even know the data because that data isn’t always being collected consistently so it definitely is an issue here and in many other rural areas,” said Fathima Wakeel, Assistant Professor of Public Health at Ferris State.

Now, a $200,000 grant will help several organizations take on that problem.

They’ll be looking at what resources the county already has and what it still needs.

“We’ll also be looking at the existing resources we have in the community to address opioid misuse and abuse. After that, the next step is really to conduct this gap analysis and really think about some ways we can fill these gaps in our community,” said Wakeel.

Spectrum Health in Big Rapids says they’ve seen more people struggling with opioids.

“We’ve had things we’ve all done in our different agencies, but having the ability to put a face, to put a name around and a group around this and work around planning, I think will be substantial,” said Scott Lombard, Manager of Community Education.

The nine months leading up to March of this year saw 122 people at the Big Rapids hospital get help through a hospital program and more than 75 got some form of treatment.

“When you really know where the need is or the gap in the need is, then you can put programming or planning around that and may have an opponent to design or put something in place some type of implementation in place to work on those gaps,” said Lombard.