Thrive by IU Health

April 26, 2024

City of Indianapolis awards IU Health $250,000 grant to launch Opioid Engagement Team

City of Indianapolis awards IU Health $250,000 grant to launch Opioid Engagement Team

The City of Indianapolis recently awarded IU Health a $250,000 grant to establish an Opioid Engagement Team, consisting of an IU Health social worker and a police officer from IU Health’s Department of Public Safety. The new team, modeled on other cities’ crisis intervention team concepts, will pilot a program focused on immediate crisis response as well as long-term prevention and support efforts for people experiencing a substance use crisis or other emergencies in and around IU Health’s downtown Indianapolis medical campus. The program will prioritize people at high risk for overdose.

The grant funding, secured by IU Health Foundation, will cover salaries, training and benefits for the police officer and social worker, plus a vehicle and additional equipment. The team will work 40 hours a week, during shifts to be determined by need.

“New approaches are desperately needed to treat opioid and other substance use disorders, instead of just sending people to jail,” said Cassandra Tice, Director of Grants at IU Health Foundation. “IU Health is grateful to the City of Indianapolis for its vision.”

In addition to addressing immediate health needs, the team will offer long-term services including detoxification programs and abstinence-based treatment, as well as wraparound services focused on social determinants of health such as inadequate housing and poor nutrition that result from addiction and related mental health challenges.

The team will work closely with internal and external partners to build relationships with referral partners so they can make appropriate recommendations to the people they encounter. They will also be trained to identify and understand cultural and systemic barriers that lead to distrust of law enforcement, particularly in historically marginalized communities. The project is funded for a year, with benchmarks and metrics established to gauge success and guide discussion of a broader implementation of the program.

To learn more about how government grants as well as individual gifts are helping to make Indiana healthier, visit