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September 25, 2018 : Ohio Southern Training Grant to Aid Workers in Opioid Fight
When two Ohio University Southern faculty members started their careers in nursing and in education, neither had training specific to opioids. Dana Scott and Martha Evans wanted to do something to support people in the ‘helping industries’ gain skills needed to face the epidemic and be effective as nurses, teachers, social workers, counselors and other professions.
Scott and Evans are co-project directors for a $50,000 Rural Business Development Grant from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture that will allow the Southern Campus to create a series of trainings targeted to those ‘helping industries.’ Matching funds of $51,684 bring to total $101,684 for the program, which will train skilled workers in Lawrence County and surrounding areas.
Martha EvansEvans, an assistant professor and campus liaison of education, wanted to be part of the solution. “It’s because of teachers’ interactions with students that we need this training,” Evans said. “Everyone has encountered someone who is impacted. We need to provide teachers and others with training to help deal with this drug problem,” she said. “This grant will assist school personnel and other workers in gaining skills necessary to support persons in recovery,” Evans

Dana ScottScott, an assistant professor of nursing, said the grant is hoped to provide training resources for new graduates of the Southern Campus who are entering the Tri-State labor force as well as incumbent workers. “Everyone can stand to benefit from new information and strategies when it comes to working with people impacted by opioids and other drugs,” said Scott. “The impact of opioids is so tremendous in southeast Ohio, our workforce has been especially hard hit assisting those in need of treatment,” Scott said.
Some of the training needs identified by the project include more education on the health impact of addiction, available community resources and self-care for frontline workers. In a news release about the project, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown said the investment of USDA funds will ensure the rural workforce has the resources it needs. “We cannot write off the Ohioans who struggle with addiction and we cannot write off entire communities,” said Brown.
Nicole Pennington, Dean, said the regional campus wants to support the community, helping pre-service and in-service professionals gain skills to get ahead of the current crisis. “Opioids impact all segments of our community. This project will provide needed training for those on the frontlines fighting the epidemic,” Pennington said.  According to Pennington, the campus is looking for additional ways to be part of the solution. “The Southern Campus wants to serve as a resource for our region’s workforce. When employers and employees need help, we want to offer the training they need to be successful,” she stated.