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Schachman speaks on opioid crisis and treatment

Kathleen Schachman listens to students during the question-and-answer portion of her lecture before President Don Bachand concludes the lecture with some final thoughts of his own. Vanguard Photo | Nicole Vogelpohl

SVSU is stepping up to fill the need for nurses specialized in working with addicts.

Kathleen Schachman, Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair of Nursing, gave a talk on technology’s impact on the opioid crisis in rural Michigan. The talk, “High-Tech, HighTouch Solutions to the Opioid Crisis in Rural Michigan,” took place in Founders Hall at 4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 3.

Schachman recently helped SVSU secure a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health’s Health Resources and Services Administration. The grant will fund the psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-graduate certificate program.

“We teach (students) how to use technology to help a person who is addicted manage their anxiety and depression,” Schachman said. “We use mobile apps in our treatment, which really empowers patients for their own recovery.”

In conjunction with her teaching for program, Schachman is also participating in Project Echo.

Project Echo is a network of health providers who assist one another when there is a lack of specialized care. Practitioners can call in and listen to the discussion about a condition and treatment and ask questions about their cases.

“We have 86 spokes in Michigan, and we are in 11 other states now,” she said. “We had one join from Canada, too. We hope that the clinics that participate will feel more comfortable and more confident in treating substance abuse disorders.”

The specialists for SVSU’s Echo are a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner, an addictions doctor, a peer recovery coach, a pharmacist, and a social worker.

Every other Wednesday from noon to 1:30 p.m., they discuss an aspect of treating substance abuse disorders, and practitioners that are listening in can present their cases and seek help.

Schachman’s goal is to double the amount of psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners in the state of Michigan through SVSU’s program. Currently, only 3 percent of nurse practitioners in Michigan are certified in psychiatric mental health.

“I discovered that there really are no resources for individuals with substance abuse disorders in the region,” Schachman said. “That’s what sparked my interest is that I saw this as a real gap in services.”

SVSU anticipates 100 psychiatric mental health nurse practitioners will graduate from the new program in the next four years, almost doubling the current number.

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