MONROE, La. (KTVE/KARD) — The University of Louisiana at Monroe College of Pharmacy received a fully-funded grant to provide harm reduction education to first responders and decreased opioid overdose deaths in the state of Louisiana. According to reports, the grant is the largest award given to the University in more than a decade.

The US Department of Health and Human Services’ Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration awarded the $2,475,408 four-year grant to the associate professor of clinical practice, Dr. Alexis Horace. Dr. Harace’s research team includes the following members:

  • Dr. Oscar Garza
  • Dr. Stephen Hill
  • Dr. Jameshia Below
  • Dr. Stephanie Anderson

The grant will fund a training program called ULM HERO, which is the abbreviation for Harm Reduction Education and Referral for Opioid Overdose Reversal. Dr. Horace and her team will lead educational programs for first responders and community members in Ouachita Parish, Orleans Parish, and surrounding rural parishes. First responders will learn how to administer opioid reversal medications like naloxone and how to refer people who use opioids to treatment.

There is a stigma with people who use opioids which keeps them from seeking help from first responders and also a stigma first responders may have with people who use opioids. This grant will bridge that gap and help people save lives. This will arm our first responders with the resources to help guide people who are willing to go to treatment centers. It’s not just giving first responders naloxone, but giving them the information and a network to help folks enter treatment centers.

Dr. Alexis Horace

The ULM HERO program will educate first-responders-in-training. Dr. Horace’s team will also host 50 community events to provide risk education in underserved communities.

Dr. Horace’s goal is to provide education to 4,000 first responders in Louisiana by 2026 and to increase the programs’ collaborations with local treatment and recovery centers by 80 percent.