University of Vermont President Suresh Garimella, Sen. Patrick Leahy and Dr. Marjorie Meyer
U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) announced Thursday that the University of Vermont is getting a $6.6 million federal grant to enhance treatment strategies for people in rural areas who are addicted to opioids.
Leahy was flanked by UVM President Suresh Garimella and various UVM Medical Center officials as he announced the funding in his downtown Burlington office. The officials on hand did not identify any new programs that the grant would support, but said the money will fund both research and clinical treatment for opioid addiction in hard-hit rural areas.
Dr. Stephen Leffler, the medical center's acting president, said the funds will provide "an enhancement of what we're doing."
Dr. Marjorie Meyer, director of UVM Medical Center's maternal fetal medicine program, said that the impact of opiate addiction goes beyond the user, and that solutions must be family-based. "We can develop more evidence-based tools to help the whole family unit," she said.
"This is just a start," Garimella said, of the three-year grant. UVM is committed to helping solve Vermont's problems, such as the opiate epidemic, he said.
UVM's grant is meant to support rural programs in Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, Leahy said. It's one of three Rural Centers for Excellence on Substance Abuse Disorders that will be funded nationally.
"I'll get the money and they'll do the work," Leahy said.