Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care
Great Rivers Regional System for Addiction Care is an innovative approach to addressing addiction and recovery efforts. The system, funded through a $2 million award to Marshall Health by the Merck Foundation, brings together 70+ organizations and agencies in Cabell, Jackson, Kanawha and Putnam counties in West Virginia.
Great Rivers is building an infrastructure and strengthening collaborations in the communities and neighborhoods hit hardest by the opioid epidemic in West Virginia in order to have a measurable impact in saving lives and changing the course for individuals, children and families impacted by substance use disorder.
The Great Rivers System seeks to begin comprehensive programs “in” and “with” local communities and harness the expertise of multiple partners including health care providers, public health experts, first responders and community-based organizations.
Together, we can help:
- Reduce opioid overdoses and overdose deaths
- Increase access to and retention in substance abuse treatment
- Enhance access to care for viral hepatitis and HIV
- Improve public health education to increase awareness and prevention of substance abuse and addiction
Tina L. Ramirez
Director, Great Rivers System for Addiction Care
Tina has many years of experience in community-based health improvement planning and facilitating work among community partners. Before joining Marshall Health, Tina served as the prevention and wellness director at both the Kanawha-Charleston Health Department (KCHD) in Charleston, West Virginia, and Putnam County Health Department (PCHD) in Winfield, West Virginia. She also was the director of the harm reduction/needle exchange program at KCHD. She is a graduate of West Virginia University in Morgantown, West Virginia.
Tina is passionate about reducing incidence of substance-related health and social harms, including the transmission of blood-borne pathogens through substance abuse.
Jessica Beha, BA, BSW, LSW
Prevention Education Specialist, Great Rivers System for Addiction Care
Jessica has a bachelor's in communication from Mount Vernon Nazarene University as well as a bachelor’s in social work from West Virginia State University. She worked as a social service coordinator for 4½ years in Kansas City, Missouri, before returning to West Virginia. Prior to her work with Great Rivers, she served as a social worker with the Children’s Home Society of West Virginia in its emergency shelter program in Charleston. Jessica has a passion for working with at-risk populations across the spectrum and has close to 13 years of experience working with the at-risk population.
The Great Rivers System fosters critical thinking around barriers to recovery as well as innovation among System partners. As challenges are identified, Great Rivers brings together small groups of community and system partners, as well as content experts, around the topic to form a “think tank” in order to better address the issues.
A think tank is defined as an institute, conference, or session aimed at exploring new ideas and strategies around a particular subject. Great Rivers Think Tanks convene partners in a dialogue about specific topics or issues in order to deepen their collective insight, develop recommendations and establish collective next steps that will address, strengthen and enhance the Great Rivers System in delivering the highest quality of care to those with substance use disorders.
The Think Tanks are facilitated and structured meetings, sponsored and coordinated by Marshall Health, that bring together individuals with knowledge and expertise on a particular topic area. A group of two to four Think Tank leaders are identified to work with the Program Director to guide the Think Tank planning process and development of a Think Tank briefing document following the meeting.
Planning includes development of a list of participants, background information on the issue to be explored, relevant data to be presented, the agenda and meeting evaluation. Think Tank participants, or “thought leaders,” individuals invited to represent diverse perspectives, with a minimum of three sectors of the community included.
Some Think Tanks may focus on a very specific topic, while others may address a much broader context, issue or emerging issue. Following each Think Tank, a brief summary report will be developed, including description of the process, recommendations and next steps.
Once finalized, Think Tank documents will be available below.
Think Tank Briefs
Great Rivers helps with the coordination and implementation of the following resources available to health care or community-based organizations.
- Community health education and prevention promotes healthy behaviors throughout your community using health education and health communication.
- Harm reduction uses an evidence-based approach to help individuals who are not able or willing to abstain from illicit/illegal injection drug use and provides an opportunity for individuals to make positive choices that will protect their health and the health of others in the community.
- Naloxone administration training is offered weekly at the local health departments in Cabell and Kanawha counties and is available to the public, upon request, in the counties we serve free of charge. Upon completion of the training, attendees will understand the signs and symptoms of an overdose, strategies to prevent overdose, how to administer naloxone properly, reporting requirements related to the use of naloxone in West Virginia and local resources for addiction counseling and treatment.
- Project Engage promotes screening patients for opioid use disorder (OUD) to allow staff to provide comprehensive care, including preventing withdrawal. The use of certified peer recovery coaches offers opportunities for counseling and referral to treatment and recovery programs, if desired by the patient.
- Provider Response Organization for Addiction Care & Treatment, or PROACT, is a single service hub offering comprehensive care for individuals with substance abuse disorder. It brings together addiction and recovery services, primary care, social services, spiritual care and under one roof.
- Quick response teams combine emergency medical services, law enforcement and recovery coaches/clinicians to act as a referral system for recovery care. Our model follows up with individuals who have overdosed within 24-72 hours to offer treatment and recovery options in a low-pressure environment.
Merck Foundation Annual Reports
- Best Practices in Tele-Behavioral Health
- Care Coordination Models for High-Risk People
- Changing Hearts and Minds
- County-Level Vulnerability to HIV, HCV & Overdose Mortality - >>Listen to the webinar
- Creating Opportunities for Recovery Employment (CORE)
- Solutions Oriented Addictions Response, WV
- 2022 Resource Guide - including recovery residences, MAT locations, peer recovery coaches, crisis stabilization units, treatment facilities and more. [updated 6/13/22]
- 2020 Education List - training resources for communities, individuals, families and schools.
Strategic Planning Documents
- Great Rivers Regional Summary Plan
- Cabell County Strategic Plan
- Jackson County Strategic Plan
- Kanawha County Strategic Plan
- Putnam County Strategic Plan
- Cabell County - Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Toolkit
- Kanawha County - Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Toolkit
Learn more about the Great Rivers effort generously supported by the Merck Foundation.
Log in to our Member Portal for the latest news and information. Connect with other member organizations.
Not a Member? Register Now.
Great Rivers Program Director