NewsCovering Kentucky


New initiative to fight opioid epidemic focuses on workforce initiative

Posted at 6:19 PM, Jun 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-24 18:24:01-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– Government, Health, and Business leaders are joining forces to try and stop the cycle of addiction.

“I know a grandmother in Rockcastle that lost all three of her grandsons, and so an entire generation was wiped out. And that’s what we’re seeing. We’re seeing us lose the brightest, the best, the most talented, the most sensitive people,” said CEO and Founder of the Isaiah House Mark Lapalme. Lapalme sees first-hand the devastating effects of opioid addiction.

Lapalme’s organization sponsored an inaugural opioid summit Monday, with attendees from all different sectors.

“It takes everyone, government, businesses, non-profit agencies to come together. And not just think of treatment as the end goal, but a meaningful return to work and life,” said Beth Davisson with the Kentucky Workforce Center.

At the summit, a Chamber Workforce Initiative was announced. The program will provide resources for businesses about how to handle opioid addiction in the workforce and hire those who are recovering.

“So helping them audit their current HR policies and procedures, how they onboard from the recovery community and how they help their current employees heal,” said Davisson.

We’re told that Kentucky businesses play a crucial role in stopping the cycle of addiction and saving lives.

“So saying, ‘we’re okay, we know people have problems we want to work with them. We don’t want to demonize them or disqualify them from their jobs, we want to help them get better’,” said Jonathan Copley, the CEO of  Aetna Better Health of Kentucky.

The new program is being paid for in large part by several grants, although the Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center is still working to raise money.