HRSA Team Wins Award for Rural Opioid Response Program, Transforming Lives in Communities

Health Resources and Services Administration

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) announced that the team of Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, and Sarah O’Donnell from the HRSA Federal Office of Rural Health Policy was recently named the winner of the 2023 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals People’s Choice Award by the Partnership for Public Service. This team established the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program (RCORP), which has helped millions of people in rural communities across the country receive opioid use disorder prevention, treatment, and recovery support services.

The Service to America Medals, known as the Sammies, are often called the “Oscars” of public service and represent the very best of the federal government.  The People’s Choice Award grants special recognition to the team that receives the most votes from the general public, highlighting how the work of the federal government resonates in communities. HRSA, an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), provides health care to the nation’s highest need communities and supports training and growing the health care workforce. HRSA programs include support for rural communities, historically underserved communities, people with low incomes, people with HIV, infants, children, and new parents.

“I’m thrilled that the work of the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program team resonated most with the American public,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “The work to reduce the dangers of substance use disorder in high-risk rural communities is critically important. Thank you to the Partnership for Public Service for recognizing this excellent, life-saving work.”

“Our government is powered by dedicated public servants like Megan Meacham, Allison Hutchings, Sarah O’Donnell, and the members of the HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program team,” said HHS Deputy Secretary Andrea Palm. “This award recognizes their important work on behalf of the American people and serves as a reminder of what government can achieve.”

“Megan, Allison, Sarah, and the entire HRSA Rural Communities Opioid Response Program Team represent the best of government service and – like all of our work at HRSA – they are driving change by helping communities get the health care services and supports they need,” said HRSA Administrator Carole Johnson. “Their work to prevent and respond to the opioid crisis is making a real difference on the ground as rural communities have expanded treatment sites, grown their prevention strategies, and built and sustained pathways to recovery.  Our People’s Choice Award winning team is an incredible example of the work being done every day at HRSA to make a difference in the lives of people across the country who need health care services.  We are very proud of their leadership and their embodiment of the HRSA mission.”

To help tackle the public health crisis of opioid use disorder in rural communities, Meacham, Hutchings, and O’Donnell created the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program. The funding provided through the program allows grant recipients to provide services tailored to the needs of their communities and pilot innovative practices.

To date, the program has invested over $500 million and served more than 4 million rural individuals in over 1,800 rural counties across 47 states and two territories. Through RCORP, HRSA has supported training approximately 634,000 service providers, paraprofessional staff and community members.

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