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Health Center Orchestrates Community Partnerships to Address Substance Abuse

Addictions have ravaged rural Wisconsin, afflicting patients and entire families.  So the Family Health Center of Marshfield staff has spearheaded efforts targeting substance abuse as part of its outreach efforts. 

“It helps our patients, and it helps bring new patients to us,” said Rachel Stankowski, Project Manager for Community Partnerships & Programs at the center. 

The health center offers services at three outpatient alcohol and drug recovery centers.  Opioids garner much of the nation’s attention related to substance abuse.  However, many local problems stem from methamphetamines and alcohol, Stankowski noted. “There’s this huge culture of alcohol in Wisconsin.  It just kills so much slower.” 

Because unstable housing situations presented more barriers to recovery, the center teamed up with other community agencies to address the problem.  The Central Wisconsin Partnership for Recovery launched a “RentReady” program to help those in need of housing.  RentReady had 25 participants through May 2023.  Twelve completed the program and went on to sign leases with participating local landlords. 

The Partnership also works with the Wood County jail to reduce overdoses and recidivism when people are released.  A Jail Discharge Planner gives referrals to the health center and coordinates other services as needed. 

The health center could not have run these creative programs on its own. Dozens of organizations came together to make unique contributions, Stankowski said.  “We love it.  Our community partners are so willing to innovate.”