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High Risk Patient Education Program

The Virginia Rural Health Association has received a federal grant to increase capacity for preventative intervention regarding prescription opioids through the development and dissemination of a training and education program for the rural communities of Virginia.

VRHA will use funds from this funding opportunity to meet the goal of providing tools and processes which would enable Virginia’s rural communities to better address the opioid abuse crisis at a local level. 

This goal will be met through the following objectives:

  • By October 1, 2018, develop the “High-Risk Patient Education Program” (HRPEP), a curriculum and training protocol for one-on-one interaction with high-risk patients in a clinical setting.
  • By October 1, 2019, implement HRPEP at 75% of the Virginia communities designated as “rural.”
  • By October 1, 2020, implement processes which would assure project sustainability after federal funding has been expended.
  • By October 1, 2020, conduct a thorough evaluation of the project and disseminate results.   

The HRPEP curriculum will consist of the following steps:

  1. Identify high-risk patients:  Individuals who had been diagnosed with any type of overdose or poisoning, or had a prescription for opioids and/or benzodiazepines will be selected for one-on-one consultation with staff at the hospital or clinic.
  2. Patient education: The trained staff will provide education on opioids and their risks to the patient and any family members present.  The patient will also be provided with information about local resources such as disposal sites for any unused medications.
  3. Medication assistance: The staff will assist the patient in acquiring opioid overdose recovery medication (e.g. Narcan, naloxone, EVZIO), and when appropriate, identify resources that will help the patient pay for the medication.
  4. Make referrals: The staff will refer the patient to a pain clinic or family practice clinic providing pain management as appropriate.
  5. Public education: The staff will encourage the patient and any family members present to attend a REVIVE! education session to receive in-depth education on opioid risks and responding to opioid overdoses.

Participating entities will select staff members to receive the training who would be the most appropriate in their facility, such as nurses, health educators, or case workers. VRHA would then travel to them to train the identified staff in each community in the protocol to implement HRPEP. 

To streamline implementation, the facilities will be provided with smart devices to deliver screening and a brief intervention known as e-SBI (electronic screening and brief intervention).  The participating sites will also be provided with overdose rescue kits to give to patients and family members who have received the intervention.  The kits contain rescue breathing masks, rubber gloves, information on how to obtain naloxone, and an educational insert.

Additionally, the project would train the key contact staff at each participating facility in the education protocol, also known as “train-the-trainer”.  This would allow the on-site staff members to continue to conduct training sessions in-house to allow the project to continue after the project period has ended and current staff have turned over.

This project will be led by VRHA Program Coordinator Mindy Thorpe with guidance from VRHA Executive Director Beth O’Connor.  Please contact us for additional information at:

Mindy Thorpe

Beth O’Connor

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