Fentanyl Crisis Help Coming to 3 Rural Western WA Counties

Whidbey Is., Centralia hospitals get nearly $1M each for medication-assisted opioid treatment; Grays Harbor hospital gets $300K for overdose response

EDMONDS, WA – Three rural Western Washington communities are getting federal support to battle the fentanyl crisis.

Today, U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) announced that three grants are being awarded to Western Washington community health organizations by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Rural Communities Opioid Response program.

“At every stop on my statewide fentanyl listening tour, I've heard that we must make it easier for people to find treatment if we're going to end this crisis,” said Sen. Cantwell. “That means giving rural hospitals the resources to offer the most effective substance use treatments. These grants will help people suffering from addiction in Grays Harbor County, Island County, and Lewis County get access to care.”

Two grants were awarded through the Rural Communities Opioid Response (RCORP) Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) Access Program. RCORP MAT Access awardees improve access to MAT in rural areas by hiring more people, improving facilities, and establishing new places for patients to access MAT. Whidbey Island Public Hospital District, based in Island County, will receive $990,557. Cascade Community Health Care, based in Centralia, Lewis County, will receive $928,700.

Grays Harbor County Public Hospital District 1 will receive a $300,000 grant through the Rural Communities Opioid Response (RCORP) Overdose Response Program. RCORP Overdose Response awardees provide immediate responses to the overdose crisis in rural areas by improving access to, capacity for, and sustainability of prevention, treatment, and recovery services for substance use disorder.

Sen. Cantwell has been conducting a listening tour across Washington state to hear from people on the front lines of the fentanyl crisis. She has made nine stops on the tour so far. In May, Sen. Cantwell hosted a fentanyl crisis roundtable discussion in Pierce County followed by a second roundtable discussion in Snohomish County in June; in July, she convened a roundtable in the Tri-Cities, a roundtable in downtown Seattle and a roundtable in Spokane. Last month, Sen. Cantwell hosted roundtables in Vancouver, WA, Port Angeles, Walla Walla, and Yakima.

In July, the Senate passed the FEND Off Fentanyl Act as part of the National Defense Authorization Act. The bill, which Sen. Cantwell cosponsored, would enhance current law so U.S. government agencies can more effectively disrupt illicit opioid supply chains and penalize those facilitating the trafficking of fentanyl. It also declares international trafficking of fentanyl, and the precursors used to make it, a national emergency.

In May, Sen. Cantwell led a Commerce Committee markup of S. 1280, the TRANQ Research Act, to help combat the rise in illicit use of xylazine, also known as tranq, which is a new dimension to the fentanyl crisis. It directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology to take steps to enhance understanding of xylazine or tranq and other novel synthetic drugs, develop new tests for detection, and establish partnerships with front-line entities that are often the first points of contact with new street drugs. Sen. Cantwell is a cosponsor of that bipartisan bill, and also cosponsored similar bipartisan language to amend a bill that subsequently passed the Senate by unanimous consent in June.