Grant will help Mich. county treat inmates with opioid use disorders

The county was awarded $450,000 for two years to treat opioid abuse and mental health issues by persons in jail


Dean Cousino
Monroe News, Mich.

MONROE COUNTY, Mich. — Persons incarcerated at the Monroe County Jail will get a boost with new grant funding for treatment of opioid abuse and mental health challenges through the Michigan Re-Entry Project (MI-REP) effort.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has awarded the county $450,000 for two years to treat opioid abuse and mental health issues by persons in jail. Officials from the Monroe County Sheriff's Office and the Monroe Community Mental Health Authority held a press conference Thursday to announce details about the grant.

"We have to take care of people," Major Troy Goodnough, jail administrator since 2013, told staff from the authority and county officials at the Emergency Management Division Office. "With our partners, we're giving them continuity of care and tools to be productive members of society rather than a drag on society. We have a good team in place to (provide) a good outcome. This puts the wheels in motion to avoid a tragedy."

The funding will assist county residents who have opioid use disorders and are currently incarcerated to integrate them back into the community. Re-entering the community can be both exciting and stressful, said Lisa Jennings, executive director of the authority. MI-REP is designed to provide inmates tools to re-enter the community while also succeeding in recovery from occurring mental health and opioid use problems, "This is just a stepping stone to open doors and to identify needs," Jennings said. "Without this partnership and cooperation, we wouldn't be where we're at today."

MI-REP is funded by a Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration grant awarded to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The MI-REP team will begin working with individuals for up to three months pre- release and for up to six months post release, she said. The team includes a case manager and peer support specialist. Overseeing the team will be Adria Clark, clinical services department head; Geralyn Harris, chief clinical officer; Jennings and Goodnough.

"This is a volunteer program," the jail administrator noted. "(We) will not force people to take part. (But,) if you want to make a difference in the community, you have to step up to the plate."

In addition to linking to psychiatric and medication assistance treatment, the team will provide practical services like transportation, assistance with having benefits reinstated, securing housing and employment, insurance and finances.

Harris said another benefit is the training clinicians will give to inmates.

"Without these services and support, (some of) these inmates would go back to jail," she said.

There are 335 inmates housed at the main jail downtown and at the dormitory off Dunbar Rd., Goodnough said. The team will work out of an office at the dormitory.

The state capped the number of persons who can be helped to 40 for every six months. Consequently, Goodnough estimated that up to several hundred inmates could benefit from the training by the end of the two years.

There were about 200 referrals to the program received since last May.

There were almost two dozen stakeholders at the initial planning meeting for the program, Goodnough said. Included were representatives from Monroe County Prosecutor's Office, Michigan Works, Substance Abuse Coalition, ProMedica Monroe Regional Hospital and the probation and parole departments.

Kent County also is getting $450,000 from the state to launch a similar project for inmates there.

Wayne State University will monitor data, outcomes and any decrease in drug use to determine the success of the program.

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©2019 Monroe News, Mich.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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