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Grants Help WV Recovery, Food Groups Manage COVID-19 Impact

Two addiction-recovery programs in Charleston, W.Va., are receiving grants to support behavioral health services during the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)
Two addiction-recovery programs in Charleston, W.Va., are receiving grants to support behavioral health services during the pandemic. (Adobe Stock)

July 15, 2020

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two addiction-recovery groups and a meal-delivery service in West Virginia are getting much-needed funding boosts to help their clients cope with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three organizations that help underserved communities in Charleston are receiving a combined total of $250,000 in "Empowering Health" grants from UnitedHealthcare. According to Tommy O'Connor, chief executive of UnitedHealthcare Medicare and Retirement of the Mid-Atlantic, West Virginia already had been struggling with the opioid crisis, and the pandemic has increased the need for recovery support.

"One of the elements that needs the most work in West Virginia happens to be related to addiction and behavioral health services," he said, "which is why we've elevated this critical need."

He said Recovery Point West Virginia will receive $110,000 to provide therapy services, and the group Pollen8 is getting $95,000 to help develop a new program to address the underlying causes of addiction and promote sobriety.

O'Connor said food insecurity also is on the rise in West Virginia, so Kanawha Valley Senior Services will get a $45,000 grant to help transport seniors for "grab and go" meals and to deliver meals to their homes.

"One of the critical elements, particularly during COVID-19, that we focus on," he said, "is social isolation of seniors and also access to healthy, nutrient-dense calorically replete food."

According to the group Feeding America, one in seven West Virginians struggled with hunger even before the pandemic. Also, drug overdoses have skyrocketed; in May, paramedics across the state responded to about 40% more suspected overdose calls than the same time last year, according to the West Virginia Office of Drug Control Policy.

Disclosure: United Healthcare - VA, WV Region contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.
Diane Bernard, Public News Service - WV