PCHC Receives Grant Aimed at Reducing Overdose Deaths

BANGOR – Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC), the largest Federally Qualified Health Center in Maine, has been awarded a $50,000 grant with the purpose of helping to reduce death due to overdose, and encourage the process of recovery. 

The funds will be used to distribute naloxone, which is a safe, highly effective life-saving medication that reverses the effect of an opioid overdose. The grant will allow PCHC to distribute the medication free of charge to anyone who needs it but cannot afford it. The overall goal is to reduce the risk of overdose deaths and encourage people to take steps toward recovery. 

“Maine continues to see high rates of opioid use disorder, and we are losing more than a person a day due to overdose deaths,” said Lori Dwyer, President & CEO of PCHC. “For those struggling with this disease, our first priority is to keep them alive using whatever tools we have, including use of the overdose-reversal medication naloxone.  We need to keep them with us and exposed to community supports so that they will engage in treatment, battle the disease, and take steps toward recovery. We owe it to those individuals, their families, and the people who care about them the most.”

The grant is for PCHC’s Naloxone Distribution Project, and is funded by Doree Taylor Charitable Foundation, Bank of America, N.A., Trustee. The funds allocated will allow for the purchase of around 900 doses of naloxone over the one-year grant period. 

The grant was awarded in January, and the free doses of medication have been available to the public since February.  Free supplies have been distributed to both PCHC and non-PCHC healthcare practices, it is offered to PCHC patients receiving opioid use disorder treatment as well as community workers and healthcare employees.  PCHC continues to improve the process of making this life-saving medication easily available to the people who need it – particularly to family members, friends, and co-workers of individuals at high risk of overdose.  

Anyone who would like naloxone can ask their primary care provider, or call 207.404.8000, ext. 2232 and request it. If the individual cannot afford the cost of the medication, they should say so and PCHC will arrange for one of the grant-funded doses while supplies last. 

“Substance use disorder is difficult and painful, but everyone matters, and everyone deserves a chance at recovery, regardless of financial circumstances,” said Dwyer. “PCHC has been a strong advocate for distribution of naloxone, because it’s a medication that is proven effective in reversing the effects of opioid overdose and saving lives. The cost is a barrier, which is why this grant is so important. It will quite literally save lives and provide our family members, friends, and neighbors who are suffering from this disease the opportunity for a second chance.” 

All packs distributed through PCHC will include information on how to obtain treatment for Substance Use Disorders. 

About Penobscot Community Health Care

Penobscot Community Health Care (PCHC) is a non-profit, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) founded in 1997 to ensure access to comprehensive, integrated primary health care services for all to improve the health and wellbeing of patients and the Maine communities served. Sixteen practices and program service sites in the Bangor area, and in Belfast and Jackman, offer a wide range of services including family medicine, dental, pediatrics, geriatrics, mental health and substance abuse, specialty services, pharmacy and healthcare for the homeless. Online at www.pchc.com