Corrections Grant Approved For New Addiction Program

SALISBURY – A $35,000 grant is expected to help the Wicomico County Department of Corrections fund a program to identify, reduce and prevent drug and alcohol addiction.

On Tuesday, the Wicomico County Council unanimously approved a request from the Wicomico County Department of Corrections to accept a grant from the Mosaic Group that will implement a Maryland Screening, Brief Intervention, Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) program.

The statewide program is expected to encourage health care providers and patients to discuss alcohol and drug use as part of routine medical visits and identify substance use disorders.

Christina Tyler, deputy director of the Department of Corrections, told the council the facility was one of five jails to be selected for the program. She said those selected could either choose to train detention center staff to provide SBIRT services or have the health department choose a peer case manager assigned to the facility.

“We chose the option in which the health department would choose a peer case manager,” she said.

According to a memo submitted to the council, the Maryland Department of Health Behavioral Health Administration will provide the health department funding to support the employee for 12 months. It is expected that the Department of Corrections will assume the costs of that staff person after that time.

“For this year, we have a grant for a peer support specialist, which is a health department employee who will be at our facility,” Tyler said. “In addition to that grant, the Mosaic Group, who works closely with SBIRT, is offering us a $35,000 grant to help get that peer support specialist on board. It is to help with the vehicle, the laptop computer, and the necessities in order for them to get the program started.”

The memo states the employee will work directly with corrections personnel to implement the SBIRT program and use a screening instrument to identify inmates in the pre-trial population who are at risk for alcohol or drug misuse or abuse. Performance data will be collected to determine success of this project.

Council President John Cannon asked if the Department of Corrections was planning to fund the peer case manager position once grant funding was used.

“I guess you are planning to absorb that?” he said.

Tyler noted that the detention center would fund the position after the grant has expired.

With no further questions, the council voted 7-0 to approve the request.

About The Author: Bethany Hooper

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Bethany Hooper has been with The Dispatch since 2016. She currently covers various general stories. Hooper graduated from Stephen Decatur High School in 2012 and the University of Maryland in 2016, where she completed double majors in journalism and economics.