Wellness roundup: Buncombe County reveals next steps for opioid settlements

SETTLING UP: Buncombe County Commissioner Jasmine Beach-Ferrara introduced a review of the Opioid Settlement Fund Steering Committee's strategic planning report at a panel discussion May 18. Screen grab courtesy of Buncombe County

On May 18, the Buncombe County Opioid Settlement Fund Steering Committee provided the community with an overview of its next steps for funding.

Buncombe County is set to receive more than $16 million over a 17-year period as part of the settlement with pharmaceutical companies to repair harm caused by opioid misuse. (The city of Asheville received an additional $1.5 million in settlement funds.) The county received about $2 million in funds in 2022; additional funds will be disbursed each year in varying amounts.

On May 18, attendees learned that the county has allocated $458,500 to be spent through June 30 on expanding distribution of the opioid reversal drug naloxone in the community, as well as expanding access to medication-assisted treatment, programs for individuals leaving incarceration, peer support specialists and strategic planning.

According to the committee’s Opioid Settlement Strategic Planning Report, goals for fiscal years 2024-26 include reductions in overdose-related visits to area emergency departments, the jail population incarcerated for substance use-related charges and the number of behavioral health-related EMS dispatches.

In March, the Buncombe County Board of Commissioners filed paperwork to seek additional funds from another opioid litigation settlement. That settlement, paid by businesses Walgreens, Walmart and CVS and pharmaceutical companies Allergan and Teva, could result in another $12 million for the county.

Mission seeks new ER

Mission Health filed a certificate of need application with the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services to open a new emergency room on Crowell Road. The proposed freestanding facility would have emergency, pharmacy, radiology and laboratory services. The project is expected to cost $29 million and would be completed in July 2025.

A public hearing for this project will be held at 9:30 a.m., Monday June 19,  A-B Tech Ferguson Auditorium, 340 Victoria Road. NCDHHS’ Division of Health Service Regulation is accepting comments submitted as an attachment to an email at DHSR.CON.comments@dhhs.nc.gov.

Clinic opens at new location

Appalachian Mountains Community Health Center opened the Dale Fell Center at a new location, 77 McDowell St., on May 8, and is accepting new patients. The Dale Fell Center provides primary care, behavioral health, medication-assisted treatment, women’s health care, including gynecological visits, and dental care, including cleanings and fillings.

The clinic offers a sliding scale and treats all patients, regardless of their ability to pay. The clinic also accepts Medicaid, Medicare and many major insurance plans. Hours are 7:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Monday-Friday. For more information visit amchc.org.

MAHEC add 2 endocrinologists

Mountain Area Health Education Center Internal Medicine has added two endocrinology specialists, Drs. Wendy Lane and Stephen Weinrib. The doctors were previously providers with Mountain Diabetes and Endocrine Center, and closed their practice earlier this year.

MAHEC Internal Medicine offers treatment for endocrine disorders, including diabetes, polycystic ovary syndrome and osteoporosis, as well as diseases of the thyroid, the adrenal and pituitary glands and erectile dysfunction.

MAHEC Internal Medicine is located at 123-A Hendersonville Road. For more information visit mahec.net/internal-medicine.

Rapid HIV, Hep C testing available

The Buncombe County Department of Public Health Clinical Health Services has begun rapid testing for HIV and hepatitis C on Wednesdays noon-4 p.m. at 40 Coxe Avenue.

The nonprofits Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness and Western North Carolina AIDS Project were on hand May 17 to provide additional information and resources for those getting tested.

In addition to the rapid testing on Wednesdays, BCDPH Clinical Health Services regularly provides testing for HIV, herpes, hepatitis B and C, chlamydia, bacterial vaginosis and yeast infections, among other ailments. The Buncombe County STI Testing and Treatment Clinic is open Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Schedule an appointment at 828-250-5109.

A-B Tech dedicates nursing school

A-B Tech dedicated its new A-B Tech School of Nursing on April 25. The school brings together the certified nursing assistant, the associate degree nursing and the regionally increasing baccalaureate nursing programs. A licensed practical nursing program will be added in the fall, pending approval from the N.C. Board of Nursing. For more information visit abtech.edu/nursing.

Medical society receives grant

The Leon Levine Foundation awarded a $50,000 grant to the Western Carolina Medical Society, a professional association of physicians and physician assistants in 16 counties of Western North Carolina. The grant will support WCMS’ Project Access program, which provides health care to low-income, uninsured patients living in Buncombe or Madison counties. For more information about Project Access, visit mywcms.org.

Community kudos

  • Buncombe County Health and Human Services has named Amparo Acosta as director of nursing and clinical services coordinator. Acosta began the role May 1; she has worked for the county for 21 years as a nurse.
  • Highlands-Cashiers Health Foundation Executive Director Robin Tindall announced her retirement from the foundation Dec. 31. The foundation’s board of directors has commenced a search for a new executive director. For more information about the position contact 828-482-6513.

Mark your calendars

  • Asheville Yoga Center, 211 S. Liberty St, is holding a free full moon yoga class 2:30-4 p.m., Saturday, June 3. Brittany Keeler will guide the class on moon salutations and intention setting. Register at avl.mx/cpl.
  • Waves on the Edge/Sweat Your Prayers is hosting a sober, conscious dance party for the queer and trans community 9:30-11:30 a.m., Saturday, June 3, at Haw Creek Commons, 315 Old Haw Creek Road. No dance experience is required. Donations are pay-what-you-can and no one will be turned away. For more information visit facebook.com/Asheville5Rhythms.
  • Swing Asheville is holding a beginner swing dance class 7-8 p.m., Thursday, June 8, at Alley Cat Social Club, 797 Haywood Road, suite 100. Following the class, a swing dance will be held from 8-11 p.m. at the venue. For more information visit swingasheville.com.
  • Sunrise Community for Recovery and Wellness will hold neighborhood syringe pickups for community members 10 a.m.-1 p.m., Saturdays June 10, July 8 and Aug. 12. Volunteers will meet at Pisgah View Apartments Community Center, 1 Granada St. All supplies will be provided. For more information, contact Justin Shytle at 828-475-9952.
  • The Enka-Candler Branch Library, 1404 Sand Hill Road, Candler, is hosting a guided meditation 10:15-11 a.m., Saturday, June 10, for adults only in its community room. No registration is required; loose, comfortable clothing is recommended.
  • The N.C. State Massage Championship will be held 8 a.m.-10 p.m., Sunday, June 11, at Lake Junaluska Conference Center, Terrace Hotel, 689 N. Lakeshore Drive in Lake Junaluska. The event will include continuing education classes, vendors and awards. For more information, visit ncmassagechampionship.com.
  • Climb Out of the Darkness, a fundraising event by Postpartum Support International to raise awareness about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, is holding a free walk 10 a.m.-12 p.m., Saturday, June 24, in Richmond Park, 300 Richmond Hill Drive. Participants can join the Asheville team or donate at avl.mx/cpy.

UPDATE, June 7: The time frame of the Climb Out of the Darkness event has been updated.


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About Jessica Wakeman
Jessica Wakeman is an Asheville-based reporter for Mountain Xpress. She has been published in Rolling Stone, Glamour, New York magazine's The Cut, Bustle and many other publications. She was raised in Connecticut and holds a Bachelor's degree in journalism from New York University. Follow me @jessicawakeman

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