Federal and state officials were on campus at Southeast Missouri State University Wednesday to discuss workforce development, rural healthcare needs and the role of law enforcement in the drug addiction crisis in rural Missouri.
On hand for the roundtable discussion were Missouri Gov. Mike Parson; Jim Carroll, White House Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP); Anne Hazlett, ONDCP senior advisor for rural affairs; and U.S. Rep. Jason Smith. Other regional leaders in health, mental health and law enforcement participated in the discussion, and Hazlett distributed the recently published “Rural Community Action Guide.” It focuses on the far-reaching impacts of drug abuse and provides rural leaders with action steps and recommendations to combat a variety of drug addiction-related issues.
“These issues need to be addressed at the local level,” Carroll said. “We need to get help to people in rural America. The answers are not in (Washington) D.C.”
He expressed the need for a shared commitment to saving lives, getting more people into treatment and helping those who need it most.
Parson said, “We are gaining ground on dependency, but we have a lot of work to do.”
He discussed the importance of increasing opportunities for employment for those impacted by the opioid crisis and the growing need for broadband in rural areas to support telemedicine and moving forward in meeting rural health needs in Missouri.