Kelly Maffia

Kelly Maffia, behavioral and mental health director for the Broad Top Area Medical Center, helped the health system as well as other agencies garner $1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help fight opioid addiction in the county.

Broad Top Area Medical Center (BTAMC) officials learned Friday afternoon they received a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Health Resources and Services Administration to combat substance use disorders and opioid use disorders in the county.

While the grant was awarded to BTAMC, it’s also a joint effort from a consortium that consists of Penn Highlands Huntingdon, Mainstream Counseling, Juniata Valley Tri-County Alcohol and Abuse Commission as well as BTAMC.

“This grant is three-year funding, and it’s based on a year of meeting and finding ways to responding to substance abuse issues in the county,” said Kelly Maffia, behavioral and mental health director for BTAMC. “These are things that include prevention, but also support recovery. We’ve been fortunate that in the last three to five years, we’ve had a lot of success.”

Maffia is referring to is an earlier $200,000 grant from the Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy grant that aided in the planning of a program in the prevention, treatment and recovery from opioid addiction.

This particular grant, that was awarded to the lead at the time, Penn Highlands Huntingdon (then J.C. Blair Memorial Hospital), and it allowed the different agencies to work together to find ways to deal with pain management with the misuse of prescription of medication.

This planning grant is for one year, with the hopes of later applying for an implementation grant.

This newest grant is for the implementation of the grant, and the consortium formed invited BTAMC to be a part of and take the lead. The grant will allow them to find ways to deal with pain management, as one contributor to opioid addiction is a dependence on pain medications.

“When this consortium approached BTAMC to take the lead, we enthusiastically embraced the role,” said Maffia. “We’ve been planning this since 2018, and we’re happy to be able to be a part of it.”

Maffia said surveys given to patients noted that they need to find a plan for pain management, as many feel their pain management needs haven’t fully been addressed.

“In our survey, 78% of people who seek services are using medications, and only 58% of them feel they are effective,” she said.

John Roth, CEO of BTAMC, said he credits Congressman Dr. John Joyce for his work in getting the grant to aid Huntingdon County residents.

“I want to thank Joyce for his commitment and his confidence in what we could do and to give us the go ahead,” said Roth.

Maffia said Huntingdon County is only one of three places in the state that received this funding, and it’s great that a rural county can be at the forefront of combating opioid addiction.

In a press release, Joyce said he’s happy to work to help bring the funding to BTAMC as well as the consortium.

“Tragically, drug abuse and addiction have touched every aspect of our society — from education and the workforce to our homes and families. We are fighting back to reclaim our communities from the drug crisis,” said. Joyce. “Combatting substance addiction and abuse requires an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach, and this $1 million grant will provide much-needed support to the Broad Top Area Medical Center to serve the people of Huntingdon County, preserve families and save lives. I congratulate the Broad Top Area Medical Center for receiving this grant and look forward to continuing to work alongside its team to stem the tide of this crisis.”

Kylie can be reached at khawn@huntingdondailynews.com.

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