LCC receives $200K to combat opioid epidemic
Sen. Jim Perry (R-Lenoir) and Dr. Rusty Hunt, president of Lenoir Community College, receive a donation from a Blue Cross N.C. representative in Raleigh on Wednesday. Photo courtesy of LCC
Lenoir Community College was one of five community colleges in the state chosen as a recipient of a $1 million investment from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross N.C.). The money will go to funding degree programs in emergency medical science. Blue Cross N.C. said in a press release the investment was spurred in part by the worsening opioid epidemic in North Carolina.
“Like much of the country, North Carolina has seen dramatic increases in addiction and overdose rates in recent years. Since 2010, deaths resulting from heroin overdoses in North Carolina increased 884 percent. The dramatic increase in overdoses emphasizes the importance of adequately trained and sufficiently resourced emergency medical personnel,” the release stated.
LCC President Dr. Rusty Hunt met with legislators and Blue Cross N.C. representatives in Raleigh on Wednesday to accept the donation on behalf of the college.
“This is a wonderful opportunity to support our EMS faculty and students at Lenoir Community College,” Hunt said. “This investment from N.C. Blue Cross Blue Shield is an investment in not only our students but also our community. It will help the College expand student scholarships, emergency funds, and provide subject matter tutors as well as allow us to expand our current equipment and technology so we can stay on the cutting edge of training professionals in the healthcare field. Our focus is improving healthcare in rural North Carolina and this investment will allow us to do that as well as addressing opioid addiction.”
The other community colleges receiving funds are Brunswick, Rockingham, South Piedmont,and Wilkes. All the colleges chosen are in economically distressed parts of the state, which have, according to the release, some of the highest unintentional opioid death rates in the state.
LCC will receive $200,000 from Blue Cross N.C., which will help EMS faculty learn to prepare students to deal with the opioid crisis and update the equipment for training, including providing high-tech manikins for realistic training.