MANTI—Sanpete County has received preliminary approval from Intermountain Health Care (IHC) for a three-year grant of about $300,000 that would fund a community health worker and help fund a programming coordinator in the Sanpete County Jail.
The impetus for the grant was deaths from fentanyl in Sevier County. The original idea was to try to find a solution to the opioid issue in the Six-County Area, consisting of Juab, Millard, Piute, Sanpete, Sevier and Wayne counties.
IHC, the Central Utah Public Health Department, Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, Central Utah Counseling Center, Fourpoints Health Center in Richfield operated by the Paiute Tribe, Utah Office of the Medical Examiner, Snow College and Wayne Community Health Center Inc. have been working together to address the issue.
Upon completion of the initial steps, IHC decided Sanpete County was in the best position to receive grant money for a community health care worker, who would help with rehabilitation programs inside the jail as well as the transition programs outside of the jail.
Meanwhile, the grant would include money for supervision of the healthcare worker. The supervisory money, added to current county funds, would enable the Sheriff’s Office to assign a sergeant full-time to coordinate all types of programming for jail inmates.
At a meeting last Tuesday, May 3, the county commission was told the current grant amount was $279,683. But commissioners asked Beverly Thomas, grants coordinator for the Sheriff’s Office, to do some further negotiating with IHC to make sure the grant fully covered benefits for the community health worker.
The community health worker will be a full time position, receiving a salary and benefits of $76,975.64 with full benefits. Funding going toward a programming sergeant in the jail would be $12,296, which would be added to the sergeant’s current compensation to make the programming position full-time.
Both positions will be temporary, lasting for the three years. The candidates for the positions will be made aware ahead of time that the jobs could end when the grant expirees.
At the county commission meeting, Sheriff Jared Buchanan added that the grant would allow the programming coordinator to organize volunteers and their programs. For instance, the coordinator would oversee volunteer religious groups and ensure the group members coming into the jail get the proper training. The jail is also providing tablets and education to inmates, both of which require oversight.
“We have so much programming going on inside the jail… There’s someone who needs to oversee the programming in the jail,” Buchanan said.
Additionally, the Sanpete County Jail offers rehabilitation programs to inmates, including sex offender programming and the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) program. Once inmates leave the jail, they can receive follow-up visitation, therapy and probation.
Thomas confirmed that the grant includes equipment that either position may need, such as office supplies and travel fees.
“With all the goals set on this, this is solely on reducing the use of opioids in our community, bringing more programs to help people in the RSAT program….We do a drug take back for prescription drugs…There are so many good things that will come out of this,” Sheriff Buchanan said.
The community health care worker position has been posted with Workforce Services and is currently available for applicants.
“We are hoping to make a difference in the opioid crisis within the Six-County Area while partnering with IHC,” Thomas said.