Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley Receives $864,000 Grant

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The grant went into effect Sept. 30 and will provide training for 1,737 students pursuing careers in healthcare to identify patients at risk for substance abuse.

Mercy Health Youngstown, HMHP, Humility of Mary Health Partners

Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley has been awarded $864,000 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to teach healthcare professionals how to recognize and refer patients at risk for substance abuse to treatment programs.

The grant went into effect Sept. 30 and will be distributed over three years. In that time, 1,737 students pursuing careers in healthcare will complete SBIRT -- Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment – training, including 282 medical residents. The majority of students who will receive the training will be nurses, dental hygienists and assistants, individuals pursuing careers in behavioral health and other health professionals.

“We really need healthcare workers who are trained to recognize people at risk for substance abuse disorders and who know how to intervene and refer them for help,” says Crystal Jones, grant director, Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley. “Drug and alcohol addiction in our area is very high – we exceed both state and national averages.”

According to the Ohio Department of Health, Mahoning County has the second highest drug overdose death rate of Ohio’s major metropolitan counties. Annual drug overdose rates in Mahoning County are 14.9 per 100,000 residents. In Trumbull County, the numbers are even grimmer, with 20.2 overdoses per 100,000 residents.

“Research shows that with proper training, healthcare professionals are very effective at identifying patients at risk for substance abuse. A lot of times this is a nurse or a dental hygienist – professionals who may spend the most time with the patient,” Jones says. “If these health professionals know how to intervene, know where patients can get help for their substance abuse issues and can refer them, the outcomes can be much better for patients.

“We know that not every patient is going to be receptive to addressing their substance abuse problems,” Jones continues, “but if they come in for some other health problem and the provider is able to talk with them in a caring, non-threatening manner about the impact of their substance abuse on their health, eventually they might agree to seek help. And, the sooner that happens, the less likely they are to suffer more severe consequences to their health or die from an overdose.”

SBIRT training will be provided to students who are enrolled in any one of 12 fully accredited residency programs in multiple primary and specialty care disciplines at any of Mercy Health’s three local hospitals – St. Elizabeth Youngstown, St. Joseph Warren or St. Elizabeth Boardman. It will also be provided to students enrolled in programs for other health professions at Mercy College of Ohio, Mercy Behavioral Health Institute, Youngstown State University dental hygiene program, Choffin School of Accredited Dental Assisting, Northeast Ohio Medical University, Turning Point Counseling Services and Ohio State University College of Dentistry.

Training will be provided to 587 students in each of the three grant years.

M. Frank Beck, D.D.S., director of the general dentistry residency program at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital, will serve as SBIRT training project director. Terri Grimmet, manager of Mercy Health’s New Start Treatment Center, will serve as program manager.

About Mercy Health Youngstown
Mercy Health Youngstown, formerly Humility of Mary Health Partners, is an integrated health system in the Mahoning Valley, which encompasses the Youngstown/Warren metropolitan area – Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties in Ohio. It is part of Mercy Health, which is headquartered in Cincinnati and is the largest health system in Ohio and one of the largest Catholic health systems in the United States. Mercy Health Youngstown provides a full spectrum of health care services – acute inpatient and trauma, outpatient and ambulatory, rehabilitation, behavioral, emergency and urgent care, primary care physicians in patient-centered medical homes, specialist physician care, home health, home medical equipment, long-term care and hospice care, as well as Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley. Learn more at

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Maraline Kubik