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Family First Health Corp. has received more than $350,000 in funding for substance abuse services through the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Family First is one of five health centers in Pennsylvania to receive the funding. CEO Jenny Englerth said the money will be used to help provide routine screening to 14,000 patients served in York City and Hanover, as well as medication-assisted treatment for addiction for 400 to 500 people in the area.

“We really had limited resources,” she said. “We were really happy to be chosen for this. This is an overwhelming community need. We have to be better prepared to help them.”

Overall, $1,787,500 was given to five organizations in Pennsylvania. Berks Community Health Center in Reading and Community Health and Dental Care Inc. in Pottstown each received $379,167. Family First Health in York and Keystone Rural Health Center in Chambersburg each received $352,083. Public Health Management Corp. in Philadelphia received $325,000.

Nationally, $94 million was given to help awardees hire approximately 800 providers to treat new patients, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The opioid epidemic is one of the most pressing public health issues in the United States today,” said Sylvia M. Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services, in a March 11 press release. “Expanding access to medication-assisted treatment and integrating these services in health centers bolsters nationwide efforts to curb opioid misuse and abuse, supports approximately 124,000 new patients accessing substance use treatment for recovery and helps save lives.”

Health and Human Services is focused on improving opioid prescribing practices and increasing access to medication-assisted treatment. It is also working to increase the use of naloxone, also known as Narcan, which has already saved more than 600 people in Pennsylvania, including 100 in York County.

In 2014, more than 1.3 million people in the U.S. received behavioral health services at health centers, according to the HRSA. This is a 75 percent increase since 2008.

“Health centers treat some of the most at-risk patients in the country,” said HRSA Acting Administrator Jim Macrae, in a March 11 press release. “These awards position health centers to be at the forefront of the fight against opioid abuse in underserved communities.”

— Reach Katherine Ranzenberger at kranzenberger@yorkdispatch.com.

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