Earlier this month, the Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI’s ECHO Center received a $900,000 grant from Indiana State Department of Health as part of a larger three-year, $21 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that will bolster the state’s efforts to prevent and detect drug overdoses.
The ECHO Center currently operates multiple programs aimed at improving the health of Hoosiers statewide. The additional funding from the state will support the ECHO Center’s existing Indiana Peer Education Program and provide funding for an innovative ECHO called IN CAREs (Indiana Communities Advancing Recovery Efforts), bringing together Indiana communities with high rates of addiction and opioid overdose virtually to share community-based solutions that have demonstrated effectiveness.
Indiana Communities Advancing Recovery Efforts (IN CAREs) ECHO will began on September 1, 2019 and will run through August 31, 2022. IN CAREs ECHO will connect a group of Hub experts who have experience in responding to the opioid epidemic and reducing drug overdose deaths with a set of community-based Spoke teams made up of key members of the community’s response team, including healthcare, law enforcement, first responders, public health, behavioral health, faith based partners, community coalitions, and judiciary, and others. The Spoke teams must commit to working together to implement strategies and coordinate efforts to reduce overdose deaths in their community. Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public (FSPH) and the ISDH Division of Trauma and Injury Prevention (DTIP) will work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to put forth a curriculum for nine ECHO sessions. Topics will include eliminating the stigma of addiction, increasing access to naloxone, and using data to better understand overdose deaths. While there are many efforts occurring across Indiana to address the opioid epidemic, many are siloed within organizations or sectors, with limited opportunity to engage with other communities and share best practices. IN CARES ECHO will bring together leaders from key sectors within local communities once a month to learn about successful interventions from each other, adopt interventions locally, and advance community recovery efforts across Indiana.
“We are so excited to be working with ISDH on this project,” said Joan Duwve, Associate Dean for Practice at Fairbanks School of Public Health at IUPUI and head of the ECHO Center. “IN CAREs ECHO will purposefully bring together leaders from key sectors within local communities to work together on addressing drug overdose deaths. Those community leaders will then connect virtually with other teams of community leaders to create a knowledge sharing network. This effort will create a knowledge sharing network by bringing communities together to learn from each other about best practices and efforts most likely to successfully decrease opioid deaths.”
The INPEP ECHO, in partnership with the Viral Hepatitis Program at the Indiana State Department of Health, Step-Up Inc., and The Indiana Department of Correction, utilizes the power of peer education, a style of teaching that brings together people with shared lived experiences, to improve health education for people who are incarcerated. In a 10-hour health education workshop taught by peer educators who have graduated from the INPEP ECHO peer education course, peers discuss risks and behaviors that are particular to life inside a correctional facility. Topics focus on substance use disorder, harm reduction and preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
According to Andrea Janota, program coordinator at the ECHO Center, “Over 95 percent of people who are incarcerated will return home. INPEP ECHO is a train-the-trainer model that provides an extraordinary opportunity to improve not only the health of people who are incarcerated, but also the health of their families and communities.”
So far, more than 30 men from two Indiana State Prisons, Correctional Industrial Facility in Pendleton and Plainfield Correction Facility, completed the 40-hour peer education training program and have begun hosting weekly 10-hour health education workshops with their peers.
Janota said the peer health educators are talented and energetic facilitators who are able to use their lived experiences to reach their peers in ways that those who have never been incarcerated cannot. In addition to supporting health and safety in prisons, the program helps trainees develop professional skillsets.
More information about Fairbanks ECHO programs, including IU’s HIV, HCV LGBTQ+ and Cancer ECHOs is available online.