Washington County Addiction Coalition Hires Project Coordinator

Release Date: 
November 24, 2020

Hire kicks off implementation of $1M grant to tackle addiction in Central Vermont

Berlin, Vt. – November 24, 2020 – The Washington County Substance Abuse Regional Partnership (WCSARP) today announced that they have tapped Eva Zaret to run the partnership’s new $1M three-year “Building Safe Harbor in Central Vermont” project intended to increase access to affordable treatment for substance abuse in Central Vermont while learning about new challenges presented by Covid-19.

“We’re thrilled to have Eva joining to oversee this project,” said Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) Emergency Room Physician and WCSARP Program Director Mark Depman, MD. “She brings a deep understanding of both data analysis and public health that will be invaluable.”

In this role, Zaret returns to Vermont after managing public health projects and teams in Massachusetts and Virginia. Most recently, she served as the Data Team Leader for the Virginia-based nonprofit ForKids, which provides homeless services to families in Virginia.

The project builds on a 2019 strategic plan developed by WCSARP, a 17-member multi-stakeholder coalition, convened by CVMC. Over the next three years, the Building Safe Harbor in Central Vermont Project will direct strategies to:

  • Analyze Covid-19 impacts on substance abuse
  • Upend stigma and misunderstanding
  • Neutralize factors that lead to substance abuse
  • Increase access to harm reduction tools, treatment and recovery

“Never before has addressing substance abuse been more urgent and I am truly honored to be coordinating this effort in my home state,” said Zaret. “We will save lives by opening up hearts and minds in our community and I’m encouraged by the support I’ve already received from town managers to business owners.”

The project’s ultimate goal is to create a harmonized network of communities in and around Washington County where there is no wrong door, no wrong time to get help and support, and to prevent the initiation of substance use.

“Currently there are some very efficient paths to prevention, treatment, and sustaining healthy recovery, and other paths where we are looking to innovate with our coalition partners," said Depman. “We want to make it easy for people to access affordable treatment, no matter the path.”

WCSARP brings together a broad group of partners who work in the field of substance use disorders including the areas of prevention, treatment, recovery, harm reduction, disease prevention, and workforce development. It also includes local law enforcement, EMS, and organizations that focus on mental health, housing, the justice system, and community re-entry.

The University of Vermont Center on Rural Addiction (CORA), which serves Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, will partner to provide training, new technologies, and clinical support aids to the fledgling effort. As the project progresses, WCSARP will act as a teaching lab and incubator for other consortiums in the three states.

“These rural consortia are where we see innovation and iteration rise from established best practices,” said UVM CORA Director, Stacey Sigmon, Ph.D. “This exciting WCSARP initiative will be an integral piece of CORA’s effort to tackle rural addiction.”

The project was one of 89 from across the country to receive this round of funding by the US Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Communities Opioid Response (RCORP) Program, which was established by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont). Leahy also created the National Centers of Excellence program that led to a $6.6 million federal grant being awarded last year to establish CORA at UVM.

Leahy said: “Substance use disorder knows no boundaries. That’s why all Vermonters should have access to treatment, prevention and recovery services, regardless of where they live. We know that rural communities have been particularly hard hit, and it is critical that these services reach those living in even the most remote locations. The isolation created by this pandemic has only made this task harder. Residents of Washington County are fortunate to have so many great partners working on this effort, and as Vice Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, I will continue to support their good work.”

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said: “Vermonters in every corner of our state have been touched by the opioid epidemic, but the devastation is particularly apparent in our rural areas. While Vermont has made real progress, those gains have been threatened by the struggles and social isolation caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Tragically, we are now seeing rates of substance use and drug-related deaths on the rise. That is why this funding, which will improve the availability of lifesaving substance use and addiction treatment to those who need it, is so critically important.”

Congressman Peter Welch (D-Vermont) said: “The coronavirus pandemic has made it even harder for Vermonters struggling with opioid addiction to receive treatment. Our first responders, health care providers, treatment facilities and service organizations on the front lines of the opioid epidemic have continued to do amazing work to help Vermonters, even during this unprecedented pandemic. But they can’t do it alone. I was proud to support this additional funding that will provide them the resources they need to continue fighting the crisis head on.”


About The Washington County Substance Abuse Regional Partnership

The Washington County Substance Abuse Regional Partnership (WCSARP) was established in 2015 with the support of Central Vermont Medical Center (CVMC) with the goal of helping to build strong, healthy communities free from the harms of opioid and other substance misuse. Each of the coalition’s member organizations and the voices of those with lived experience have demonstrated strength to bring about change in our region.

About Central Vermont Medical Center

Central Vermont Medical Center is the primary health care provider for 66,000 people who live and work in the 26 communities of Central Vermont. We provide 24-hour emergency care, with a full spectrum of inpatient (licensed for 122 beds) and outpatient services. Our professional staff includes over 200 physicians and 70 advanced practice providers representing 25 medical specialties.

Central Vermont Medical Center is a member of The University of Vermont Health Network, an integrated system established to deliver high-quality academic medicine to every community we serve.