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The Bottom Line: Business community describes its role in addressing opioid epidemic

By Jacqueline Pitts, The Bottom Line

FRANKFORT, Ky. — As Kentucky is suffering from the scourge of the opioid epidemic, the Kentucky business community has created a program to help employers better handle the issue.

The Opioid Response for Business Program is a partnership between public and private entities including the Kentucky Chamber, Kentucky Chamber Workforce Center, the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, the Kentucky Health and Family Services Cabinet, Aetna Better Health of Kentucky and other members of the business community.

When forming the Opioid Response Program for Business, Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Policy Development Kate Shanks said the chamber decided it needed to act as a resource to businesses and also work to find businesses that are willing to be a second chance employer.

“We hear constantly from our members that their businesses can’t find workers,” said Shanks when sharing statistics on the impact of the opioid epidemic on workforce participation. The panel also shared statistics from the Kentucky Chamber’s recent report called Opioid Abuse in Kentucky on the opioid epidemic related to opioid misuse, overdose deaths and more.

Volunteers of America President Jennifer Hancock discussed some of the opioid epidemic statistics that described the severity of the problem and its impact on workforce. She also discussed the success of their programs including Freedom House to care for people with addiction struggles.

Paige Mankovich, Aetna Better Health of Kentucky’s director of strategic planning, described the goals of the Opioid Response for Business Program which include helping employers review and revamp their human resource policies to better handle addiction problems in the workplace and to identify employers that are willing to provide second chance employment.

Two employment specialists hired through the program will work with employers across the state to combat the opioid crisis. Click here to learn more about program and connect with the employment specialists.