More than 130 people die every day from opioid-related drug overdoses in the United States. Those trying to make a difference in hard-hit rural communities like Berkshire County — where, according to the Commonwealth’s most recent data, 38 people died of opioid overdose in 2019 — have recognized that collaboration is the key to helping solve this crisis.
On May 18, 2021, Berkshire Community College (BCC) began a series of five online training
sessions called Foundations of Opioid Addiction and Recovery, designed for healthcare
and social services professionals working in South Berkshire County. The training
program was made possible with a $1 million Health Resources and Services Administration
(HRSA) grant awarded to Rural Recovery Resources, a project created by the South Berkshire
Opioid Consortium (SBOC). The SBOC consists of four funded partners: Berkshire Community
College, The Brien Center, Fairview Hospital, and the Railroad Street Youth Project.
BCC will conduct training sessions twice a year for the next three years.
The BCC training curriculum focuses on increasing knowledge and awareness of substance use disorders, reducing stigma, and helping to provide better screening, assessment, and referral services in South Berkshire County. The two-hour training sessions, running weekly through June 15, are titled “Overview of Addictions,” “Cultivating an Attitude of Hope and Curiosity,” “Addiction is More Than Just Drug Use,” “Multiple Pathways to Change,” and “The Invitation to Work Together as a Community.”
Elena Nuciforo, BCC Director of Workforce Development, called the collaboration with Rural Recovery Resources “an incredible resource.” In addition to creating curriculum for healthcare and social services professionals, BCC and Rural Recovery Resources are also working together to train frontline health care providers such as phlebotomy technicians, she explained. “We strongly believe that maintaining an effective healthcare workforce is not only about acquiring medical and patient care skills, but also about having an understanding of community health and learning about local resources,” Nuciforo said.
Rural Recovery Resources Project Manager Gary Pratt said, “With this grant funding and our ability to collaborate with Berkshire Community College, we will be able to make great strides in tackling misinformation and stigma head on. This curriculum will improve the lives of those affected by substance use, reduce compassion fatigue in the workforce, and help us move toward more equitable treatment. The HRSA grant and the resources it provides will save lives.”