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Sacred Heart Gets $2.4M to Combat Opioid Crisis Among Underserved

Connecticut residents are more likely to die of an unintentional drug overdose –most from prescription opioids – than in a car accident, according to Connecticut’s Department of Public Health.

Dr. Susan DeNiscoDr. Susan DeNisco

That’s why Sacred Heart University, based in Fairfield, Conn., is taking new steps to combat the opioid crisis. It just accepted a $2.4-million grant for a College of Nursing project – “Alternatives to Opioids for Pain” (ALTOP) – that aims to stem the overuse of opioids in rural and underprivileged communities.

The grant came from the Health Resources and Service Administration, and the project is funded by the Advanced Nursing Education Workforce Program.

“Pain is one of the most common reasons for patient visits to a primary care provider,” said project director Dr. Susan DeNisco. “This project will prepare the next generation of nurse practitioners with safe and effective prescribing patterns yet will be poised to integrate alternative pain treatment modalities to enhance patients’ quality of life.”

The program invests in educators who will teach family nurse practitioner students at Optimus Healthcare and Southwest Community Health Center how to treat patients with chronic pain who live in underserved areas. The grant will also provide financial help to family nurse practitioner students from underrepresented backgrounds who choose to focus on serving chronic-pain patients in those areas after they graduate.

Dr. Julie G. Stewart was expected to co-direct the project with DeNisco, but recently died. Dr. Kerry Milner will serve as director of quality improvement initiatives.


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