Jefferson Receives Department of Labor Grant to Fight Opioid Crisis

Under the leadership of Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, Jefferson’s Upskill-ED project will support emergency department providers.

Under the leadership of Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, Jefferson’s Upskill-ED project will support emergency department providers.

Jefferson has received $586,000 from the U.S. Department of Labor to support a workforce strategy to reduce opioid usage in Philadelphia. Through the National Health Emergency Dislocated Worker Demonstration Grant, Jefferson will develop and conduct training for clinicians working on the front lines in the emergency department (ED).

Leading the unique project, Upskill-ED, is Priya Mammen, MD, MPH, director of public health programs and clinical associate professor of emergency medicine at Jefferson.

“The contribution of the interprofessional team that staffs the ED is essential in providing a safety net and universal access to care for vulnerable populations,” Dr. Mammen explained. “To optimize the delivery of care, healthcare organizations must ensure their staffs are equipped with the knowledge and skills to care for these patients, as well as optimize their employees’ own well-being.”

A trauma-informed department and organization trains providers in clinical skills, supports a culture of health among their staff, and accounts for the inherently complex nature of the vulnerable populations they serve, including being sensitive and responsive to cultural and historical issues (i.e., social determinants of health), she said.

Upskill-ED will operate out of Jefferson’s Institute of Emerging Health Professions, an educational think-tank and incubator. Jefferson colleagues working with Dr. Mammen on the project include Stephen DiDonato,  PhD, LPC, NCC, assistant professor in the College of Health Professions, and Kathy Shaffer, EdD, RN, MSN, assistant professor in the College of Nursing.

Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States.

Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States.

Dr. DiDonato and the Jefferson Trauma Education Network will ensure that a trauma-focused lens is maintained throughout all competency development. Drs. Mammen, DiDonato and Shaffer will lead the efforts on curriculum development with a focus on practical approaches and competencies to implement across interprofessional ED teams with input from community partners.

Supported by the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act of 2014, the Department of Labor committed more than $22 million across six states for programs to help communities address the economic and workforce-related impacts of the opioid crisis. Overdoses involving opioids killed nearly 50,000 people in 2017 in the United States, and from 2002-2017, the country experienced a 4.1-fold increase in the total number of deaths, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Philadelphia has the highest overdose rate in the country.

Philadelphia County, through Philadelphia Works, received $2 million of the $5 million awarded to Pennsylvania. Jefferson will collaborate with the other partner Philadelphia County agencies, JEVS Human Services and District 1199c Training and Upgrading Fund, focusing on skills development, job readiness and career services.

“Upskill-ED will support ED providers in understanding the complexities of those with opioid use disorder to increase empathy and to foster greater resilience among those on the front lines of this and future epidemics,” Dr. Mammen said.

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