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URMC Psychiatry Receives Additional $3.2 Million Grant Toward Combating Opioid Crisis

News Release

Grant enables URMC rural health center to add resources and extend its efforts to disseminate best practices to rural communities

The University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Psychiatry received a $3.2 million award from the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to expand the scope and reach of its program to disseminate best practices relating to opioid use disorder (OUD).

The program, run through UR Medicine Recovery Center of Excellence, has focused on bringing evidenced-based strategies to rural Appalachian communities that have been hard hit by the opioid crisis. The additional funding will support efforts such as community workshops to reduce the stigma associated with substance use disorder (SUD) and the implementation and dissemination of innovative care-management strategies. The new grant brings the total award to $12.3 million to be spent over a three-year period ending in August of 2022.

“This grant demonstrates HRSA’s commitment to fight the opioid crisis that is taking a terrible toll in many parts of rural America,” said Hochang B. Lee, M.D., chair of URMC Psychiatry and the John Romano Professor of Psychiatry. “It enables us to continue to strengthen our partnerships with rural communities and accelerate the establishment of programs that save lives.”

The grant will enable the Center to broaden its focus and pursue activities such as holding a national rural health equity and stigma summit in Rochester, NY, in spring of 2022. The Center will also expand its reach to new geographic areas as it organizes community workshops to reduce stigma. The Center’s service area for this stigma project will now include additional Appalachian counties along with counties in the Pacific Northwest region.

“Rural communities deserve the same attention and access to health care services as urban areas,” said Gloria J. Baciewicz, MD., professor of clinical psychiatry, senior medical director of URMC’s Strong Recovery program, and co-principal investigator for this grant. “Our goal is to work closely with communities to offer critical resources and help them implement the evidenced-based treatments for substance use disorder.”

In its efforts to assist rural communities impacted by the opioid crisis, the Center is collaborating with the other two Rural Centers of Excellence (Fletcher Group and University of Vermont) on a host of new projects, including:

  • A national rural health equity and stigma summit
  • A rural SUD stigma and health equity assessment
  • A clearinghouse of resources relating to SUD treatment response
  • Coordination with national and state stakeholders to identify gaps and opportunities, as well as coordination of technical assistance efforts

“Each center of excellence has focused on helping communities address different challenges across the system of care. This funding will coordinate and preserve that work in a centralized location and extend access to proven programs and assistance with implementation to new communities,” said Michele Lawrence, MBA, MPH, assistant vice president of Regional Business Development for URMC and co-principal investigator. “We really encourage any rural community struggling with opioid use disorder to talk with our team about how we can help. We have some really innovative ideas about how to overcome stigma, funding challenges, community engagement and more.”

The Center will continue to disseminate best practices supported by its first two funding awards from HRSA in 2019 and 2020. Those resources will be publicly available at