The Community Health Initiatives (CHI) group is dedicated to building and strengthening the well-being and resilience of communities through data-driven, quality improvement efforts of both public health and public safety initiatives.

Current Community Health Initiatives

Funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the Strategies to Coordinate Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) Statewide project offers FREE training to equip and empower first responders (e.g., emergency medical services (EMS) personnel and firefighters) to reduce the impact of opioid overdoses in their communities. This training educates first responders on the opioid public health crisis and introduces expanded services that first responders can implement to better serve community members who may be at risk of substance use disorder. First responders play an important role not only by aiding those experiencing an overdose, but also in potentially referring patients to local drug and alcohol services to ensure that patients get the right care, at the right time, and in the right setting. The SCOPE Statewide project trains EMS personnel in every county across the commonwealth and firefighters within a 33-county catchment area in Pennsylvania. The training course is approved for 4 hours of EMS continuing education credits. Click here to visit the SCOPE Statewide website

Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) First Responders

"Train first responders on non-traditional services to better promote the health safety and well-being of the people in the systems they serve."

Funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) First Responders is a collaboration between first responders and drug and alcohol services in southwestern Pennsylvania. The program also encompasses local law enforcement agencies and Single County Authorities. The program is training emergency medical service first responders on:
  • Using naloxone for overdose reversal and training patients and families on how to use “leave-behind” naloxone kits;
  • Using motivational interviewing to conduct referrals and “warm handoffs” to help patients access substance use disorder and/or mental health evaluation and treatment; and
  • Implementing community-based paramedicine and harm reduction follow-up procedures with patients who do not wish to pursue treatment.

Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) Drug Chemistry Surveillance for Public Health and Public Safety

"Increase vigilance and surveillance of current and future drug threats to the community through quantitative analysis of drug samples."

Funded by the National Institute of Justice, Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) Drug Chemistry Surveillance for Public Health and Public Safety is a collaboration between PERU, the Allegheny County Office of the Medical Examiner, the United States Attorney’s Office, Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Postal Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Pennsylvania State Police, and local law enforcement and District Attorneys’ offices. This project is developing a novel protocol that allows actionable, real-time quantitative forensic drug chemistry information to be collected, analyzed, and then reported to support investigations and prosecution strategies, to connect related cases, to project drug use trajectories and to identify potential overdose spikes before they fully develop. The project is also conducting the first-ever, large scale evaluation using robust quantitative and qualitative strategies to assess the reliability of the information obtained and identify the impact of large-scale quantitative, real-time forensic drug chemistry analysis at a local, state, and federal level.

PA OUD Center of Excellence Technical Assistance Center

"The Centers of Excellence will ensure care coordination, increase access to Medication-Assisted Treatment and integrate physical and behavioral health for individuals with Opioid Use Disorder."

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services since 2018, the PA Opioid Use Disorder Centers of Excellence Technical Assistance center provides technical assistance to the 45 Centers of Excellence across the commonwealth. Technical assistance provided to the Centers of Excellence aims to improve patient care and outcomes, increase access to Medication-Assisted Treatment, and integrate physical and behavioral health for individuals with Opioid Use Disorder.

Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center"The Pennsylvania Opioid Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center (TAC) will lead Pennsylvania to zero overdoses. "

Funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency since 2016, the PA Overdose Reduction Technical Assistance Center provides technical assistance to 48 county coalitions across the commonwealth as they work to eliminate overdoses within their community. The TAC provides technical assistance to coalitions as they work to build capacity, collect data, plan, implement, evaluate and sustain programming to eliminate overdoses and ensure the health, safety, and well-being of all those within their communities.

Fulton County Overdose Reduction TAC

"To promote education, treatment, and recovery of drug and alcohol misuse to build a safe Fulton County Community"

Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration, this project is a collaboration with PERU, Fulton County Family Partnership, Fulton/Franklin Drug and Alcohol, and Fulton County’s Overdose Coalition, consisting of many critical stakeholders and dedicated community members in Fulton County, Pennsylvania. This project aims to coordinate ongoing collaboration of experienced agencies in Fulton County, Pennsylvania to reduce the burden of the opioid crisis through initiatives designated in a data-driven, evidence-based strategic plan. The goals of the proposed project are to:
  • prepare individuals with opioid use disorder to begin treatment,
  • implement care coordination practices to organize patient care activities, and
  • support individuals in recovery.
Currently, PERU is assisting Fulton County’s Project SAAFE: Sustain an Abuse Free Environment to reduce stigma in Fulton County to zero by increasing community awareness about opioid use disorder, overdose, treatment, and recovery resources; expanding and sustaining capacity for prevention, treatment, and recovery initiatives; and educating individuals, families, and the work force about opioid use disorder, overdose, and those in contact with high-risk individuals.

Previous Community Health Initiatives

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) National Center for Primary Care Organizational Health Assessment

Funded by Morehouse School of Medicine, this study involved conducting an organizational health assessment of MSM’s NCPC using the Systems Transformation Framework.

Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) National Center for Primary Care Strategic Planning

Funded by the Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM), this project was a continuation of the MSM Organizational Health Evaluation. PERU utilized the results of the evaluation, collaborated with MSM, and developed a strategic plan for its National Center for Primary Care (NCPC). This strategic plan leveraged the NCPC as a national resource for primary care providers, payers, and policy makers in order to achieve equitable and optimal healthcare for all. NCPC continues to work to strengthen the primary care system through research, education, and training to improve health outcomes while advancing and sustaining health equity.

Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) Culture Change

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA DOH), this project will create training materials and deliver training for healthcare systems and practices throughout the Commonwealth to create culture change around prescriber use of the Pennsylvania PDMP. The PERU team has developed comprehensive training and assessment materials based on a framework created by Dr. Janice Pringle. PERU will be using these materials to conduct organizational health assessments on healthcare entities and train these entities on how to conduct their own organizational health assessments and improve readiness to implement PDMP. Trainings and assessments will be conducted with healthcare sites across all 67 Pennsylvania counties.

Rural Virginia Overdose Reduction TAC

"Be a model for achieving significant reductions in substance abuse and related social, economic, and health factors by building and supporting community partnerships."

Funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Rural Virginia Overdose Reduction TAC is a collaboration between One Care of Southwest Virginia and PERU. One Care is a 501(c)(3) consortium of 16 coalitions. HRSA awarded One Care funding under the Rural Communities Opioid Response Program - Planning Grant (RCORP-P). The grant period ended September 30, 2019. The goal of this grant was to create a regional Harm Reduction Alliance of community experts and stakeholders to develop a comprehensive harm reduction approach that improves prevention, treatment, and recovery for individuals with Opioid Use Disorder in rural Southwest Virginia. Results of this grant included:
  • Review and adaptation of One Care's bylaws to be in adherence with best practice non-profit structure and to ensure the consortium develops into a self-sufficient organization at the conclusion of the grant period;
  • Creation of a regional Needs Assessment, Three-Year Strategic Plan, Sustainability Plan, and Workforce Plan to address the needs of individuals in rural Southwest Virginia;
  • Redesign of One Care's website to better convey information to the community and stakeholders (;
  • Creation of a data dashboard for all RCORP-P funding recipients in Southwest Virginia to increase information sharing and connectivity in the region;
  • Partnership between One Care and NAMI of Central Virginia to plan a stigma reduction campaign to change the thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes of the community. and;
  • Funding for One Care to host several Opioid Use Disorder medical education events throughout Virginia.

Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) Curriculum for First Responders

Funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, Prescription Drug Monitoring Program Office, the Strategies for Coordinating Overdose Prevention Efforts (SCOPE) First Responder Curriculum aims to expand upon the work that was completed during the Rapid Response Project in 2018, which included:
  • conducting a baseline assessment of knowledge and stigma among first responders toward individuals with whom they are in contact due to drug overdose or drug-related crimes;
  • facilitating six regional training sessions for first responders to increase knowledge of addiction and trauma-informed care; and
  • developing a training curriculum to support ongoing training of first responders.
In the second half of this project, PERU will: (1) finalize the training curriculum for the Department of Health; (2) finalize the training structure and plan; and (3) execute and evaluate the training statewide.