Cabarrus Co. receives $1 million grant for SUN Project expansion

State-directed funds to help multi-county partnership battle opioid epidemic in Cabarrus, Rowan, Stanly
The expansion will cover Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties
The expansion will cover Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties(WBTV File)
Published: Dec. 18, 2022 at 2:59 PM EST
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CABARRUS COUNTY, N.C. (WBTV) - Cabarrus County received a $1 million state-directed grant to expand the SUN Project, a collaborative system of care for pregnant mothers with substance use disorders (SUD) and their infants and families.

The expansion will cover Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly counties. Cabarrus County is collaborating with the Cabarrus Partnership for Children, Cabarrus Health Alliance (CHA) and Endless Opportunities to execute the grant.

North Carolina Representatives Kristin Baker (R-Cabarrus) and Wayne Sasser (R-Cabarrus, Rowan and Stanly) are chairs of the House Health Committee. Both championed the grant, which will impact their service districts.

The SUN Project uses an evidence-based model from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Over several years, the project developed a system of care that provides legal tools, data mechanisms and logistical processes to address social determinants of health, such as housing, transportation and childcare. Those needs are often unmet for pregnant mothers suffering from SUD, which negatively impacts health and recovery.

Plans are in place to expand the existing network and establish similar infrastructure in Rowan and Stanly, while collaborating with the SUN Clinic—a perinatal substance use disorder clinic at CHA—and other clinical providers in the area.

Rowan and Stanly counties do not have perinatal SUD clinics. Patients drive from other counties to Cabarrus to be treated by Dr. Russell Suda, the medical director and obstetrician at CHA and SUN Clinic. Patients who live outside Cabarrus do not yet receive the full set of services because the partnership network has not been formed.

The $1 million grant will change that.

Now the region can begin collaborating on a common goal of improving the health of mothers and families—many of which may be transient and unhoused—despite where they live and seek care.

Dr. Suda formed the SUN Project in 2015. He believes public health is uniquely positioned to work collaboratively with other organizations to address the opioid epidemic during pregnancy.

“Providing prenatal care and other supportive services results in improved maternal health outcomes and a reduction in healthcare costs,” he said, adding that the SUN Project focuses on promoting bonding and improved outcomes for both mother and baby.