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D'Youville Awarded $680,000 HRSA Grant

D'Youville Awarded $680,000 HRSA Grant

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Opioid Workforce Expansion Program (OWEP) Paraprofessionals Program has awarded D’Youville a three-year, $680,000 grant to develop a Substance Use Disorder Support Specialist Certificate Program for new and existing behavioral health paraprofessionals and establish partnerships with community behavioral health organizations to provide experiential training sites for paraprofessional trainees in underserved areas of Western New York.

“D’Youville believes this program will provide paraprofessional trainees with enhanced clinical judgment and reasoning to prepare them for providing care, especially for vulnerable populations in areas where there is a shortage of behavioral health professionals,” said D’Youville President Lorrie Clemo, PhD.  “The grant allows D’Youville to respond to workforce needs to deliver innovative programs to train employees, which in turn will allow community partners to fulfill their mission to better serve their clients, and ultimately improve health outcomes.”

D'Youville President Lorrie ClemoD'Youville President Lorrie Clemo

The grant is one of just 16 awarded across the country, with only two given to organizations in New York State.

Congressman Brian Higgins said, “Erie County and Western New York are making strides in addressing the opioid epidemic, but in order to sustain this progress we must continue to take a comprehensive approach.  This federal funding for D’Youville supports training for the next generation of health professionals, advancing the ability for this community to understand, prevent, and treat opioid addiction. We commend D’Youville for their leadership on this initiative as just one of 16 Paraprofessional Opioid Workforce Expansion Program awardees nationwide.”

Congressman Brian Higgins at D'YouvilleCongressman Brian Higgins

A unique component of the training is the link to job placement resources so they can find employment in high need areas of Western New York, which will increase the distribution of paraprofessionals and alleviate workforce shortages.

“D’Youville College’s School of Health Professions new program will help our community continue the progress we have made to reduce opioid overdose deaths and increase access to treatment resources,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale R. Burstein. “We look forward to seeing this program’s future trainee cohorts at work providing the greatly needed services at our local agencies and health care facilities."

Erie County Health Commissioner Gale Burstein at D'YouvilleDr. Gale Burstein '18 (Hon.) addresses the D'Youville community.

The purpose of the SUD Support Specialist certificate program is to prepare trainees for an entry-level position as a paraprofessional who serves patients with substance use disorders. The educational program prepares students in the core skills of effective interprofessional practice and communication, cultural competence, professional accountability, support skills for patients and families, and patient safety.

“D’Youville’s School of Health Professions is thrilled to have been chosen to receive this grant award,” said Maureen F. Finney, EdD, PA-C, dean of the School of Health Professions. “This funding will allow D’Youville to remain ever committed to building healthy and thriving communities by upskilling and upscaling our health care workforce.  Through our partnership with Horizon Health, D’Youville is responding to workforce needs and community health needs by delivering this innovative health education initiative.  This speaks to D’Youville’s agility to ensure its educational offerings are relevant and will have a positive impact of the health of our community.”

The primary partner in the project is Horizon Health Services, the largest, most comprehensive provider of services for mental health and substance use disorder in Western New York. “We are honored to partner with D’Youville on this workforce expansion program which will allow access to new opportunities through collaboration and make a significant impact on our recruitment needs here in Western New York,” said Anne Constantino, president & CEO of Horizon Corporations.  “As opioid addiction and mental and behavioral health disorders persist, it is vital we maintain a strong and resourceful workforce dedicated to our mission and improving patient access and care right here in Western New York.”

Veronica Meldrum, vice president at Horizon Health Services and Dr. Briana Jegier, associate professor of health services administrationVeronica Meldrum, vice president of employee services, Horizon Health Services (left), and Briana Jegier PhD, associate professor of health services administration

The proposed project will facilitate the training and employment of behavioral health paraprofessionals in underserved settings while substantially benefit underserved communities of the region who face significant shortages of primary care professionals. Certificate holders will be proficient in supporting substance abuse treatment as part of an integrated and interprofessional care team and ready to work in a community health setting with the medically underserved population.  Over the course of the three-year period, D’Youville will offer the certification course to eight cohorts, totaling 160 individuals. As part of the program, certificate holders will also be linked with job placement resources so they can find employment in high need areas of Western New York.

“This grant is the beginning of a unique partnership with Horizon and several other local substance use disorder providers/networks where the curriculum will be co-produced and delivered,” said Briana Jegier PhD, associate professor of Health Services Administration.  “Producing the program together will allow employers to provide hands-on assistance to educators so that students are job-ready at completion. It also, over the course of the grant, will take what historically may have been an on-the-job training program and transition it to a standardized, college-credit bearing program. This will provide students with tangible college credits that they can use for future educational opportunities.”

The program will be offered free of charge to employers and trainees.

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