Winrock International announced today that it, UAMS and Ozarka College will launch a program to prevent opioid and substance abuse in Northwest and North Central Arkansas. The program will be funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture at $998,834.

The two-year Delta Understanding and Preventing Substance and Opioid Abuse in Rurality (Delta UPSOAR) program will work with youths and adults in Baxter, Fulton, Izard, Sharp and Stone counties.

A news release cited the Centers for Disease Control data in 2018 that says Arkansas is the second-highest-ranking state for opioid prescription rates, and that the five counties are “some of the most at-risk communities in Arkansas.” 

Delta UPSOAR will give live presentations, community events, online learning and overdose simulation training.

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More from the press release:

Five presentations will be delivered by Ozarka College in the region and will be live-streamed to uamspatientslearn.org, where they will remain available for download and viewing for free to the public. Ten interactive online educational modules will also be made available for free to the public on uamspatientslearn.org.

Ozarka College, in partnership with the UAMS Centers for Simulation Education, will host 40 workshops at various venues across the five target counties and 14 additional youth workshops will be hosted at 14 high schools. Program workshops will incorporate 20 hands-on, risk-free overdose simulation trainings with high-tech mannequins to train people of all ages to react and respond to an overdose.

“Rural health continues to be a priority of UAMS and our Institute for Digital Health & Innovation is dedicated to eliminating health disparities in rural communities,” said UAMS Chancellor Cam Patterson, M.D. MBA. “UAMS is proud to be a partner in this effort to fight the opioid epidemic, along with our other programs such as MATRIARC and UAMS AR-IMPACT that assist health professionals who provide treatment for opioid use disorders.”

Preventive education efforts will continue in the region beyond the two-year program through ongoing use of the curriculum, online resources and overdose simulation trainings. All resources produced by Delta UPSOAR will be directly marketed to and designed for the needs of Arkansans living in the Delta.