SMHC Receives National Grant to Address Opioid Use Disorders

October 31, 2018
Southern Maine Health Care was named the recipient of a Rural Communities Opioid Response Program-Planning grant through the Health Resources & Services Administration. The purpose of this grant is to support treatment for and prevention of substance use disorder, including opioid use disorder, in rural counties at the highest risk for substance use disorder.

SMHC was one of only 95 grant awardees nationwide, and received $200,000 in support of the Rural York County Opioid Planning Project. The grant period began on Sept. 30, 2018, and will end on Sept. 29, 2019.

"In 2016, York County recorded the highest rate of naloxone administrations of any public health district in the state and in 2017, 20 percent of overdoses and 19 percent of opioid deaths in Maine were in York County." said Jessika Morin, MD, Medical Director of the SMHC Integrated Medication-Assisted Treatment Program. "This grant provides funds to further address these issues affecting so many in York County and enhance the work underway through our IMAT Program."

The IMAT program provides patients with access to acute and long-term treatment for Opioid Use Disorder throughout the MaineHealth system. IMAT combines medication and behavioral health therapy and ensures that patients who need intensive services receive care by providers with special addiction training. Once stable and healthy, patients receive their IMAT treatment from their primary care providers and integrated behavioral health clinicians.

"We are very excited to be leading the way in addressing these issues in York County," said SMHC CEO Nate Howell.  "This work will build upon the strong partnership that exists today between Southern Maine Health Care, MaineHealth and Maine Behavioral Healthcare, and improve the collaboration with our project partners. We are dedicated to improving access to care in our communities and see this collaborative work as another big step in addressing these needs."

The planning grant will be used to bring together a consortium of community organizations to develop a strategic plan to identify opportunities and gaps in opioid use disorder prevention, treatment and recovery and support services offered. These members include SMHC, Maine Behavioral Healthcare, Nasson Health Care (affiliated with York County Community Action Corporation), Frannie Peabody Center, the Kennebunk Police Department, and North East Mobile Health Services

York County faces a complex set of challenges, including a limited job market; comparatively high poverty rate; social isolation; rural transportation challenges; and geographic vulnerability to drug trafficking.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as part of an award totaling $200,000. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS or the U.S. Government.

About Southern Maine Health Care
Southern Maine Health Care (SMHC) is a national award-winning healthcare system with a non-profit mission "to improve the health and health care of the communities we serve."  SMHC includes a full service, acute care medical center in Biddeford, with York County’s only inpatient mental health unit. Emergency care, surgical services, and diagnostic and therapy services are available at SMHC’s Medical Centers in Biddeford and Sanford. SMHC offers primary care and multi-specialty physician services, diagnostic and therapy services, and Walk-In Care centers in various York County communities including Biddeford, Kennebunk, Saco, Sanford and Waterboro. SMHC is Joint Commission accredited and has been recognized for quality excellence by numerous outside organizations. To learn more about SMHC and SMHC providers, visit,, or

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