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September 20, 2019

SVSU presentation to examine opioid epidemic’s reach in rural Michigan

A Saginaw Valley State University educator’s determination to fight the opioid epidemic in rural Michigan will be the focus of a public presentation at the campus next month.

Kathleen Schachman’s talk, titled “High-Tech, High-Touch Solutions to the Opioid Crisis in Rural Michigan,” is scheduled Thursday, Oct. 3, at 4 p.m., in SVSU’s Founders Hall. Admission is free and open to the public. 

Schachman, SVSU's Harvey Randall Wickes Endowed Chair of Nursing, will discuss how her work at the university — where she has helped merge health care delivery with educational opportunities for students and practicing nurses alike — has brought her face-to-face with one of the region’s deadliest health crises.

After a career spent as a primary care nurse practitioner across the U.S. and overseas, Schachman joined SVSU in 2014. The following year, she helped oversee SVSU’s partnership with the Bay County Health Department as the two organizations opened a nurse practitioner-led primary care health clinic in downtown Bay City now known as Bay Community Health Clinic. Staffing the site are university faculty as well as students from SVSU and other higher education institutions, from the disciplines of nursing, social work, occupational therapy, and pharmacy.

Almost immediately upon opening, the health clinic began tending to patients reporting dangerous addictions to opioids such as heroin, fentanyl and other powerful pain-killing drugs. Staff members have expanded their services after implementing telehealth components to the office, allowing them to treat and interact regularly with rural community residents sometimes deterred from seeking health care because of their distance from far-off treatment facilities. What the staff and Schachman discovered upon utilizing the telehealth approach was a largely untreated population also suffering from opioid use.

Schachman continues to add reinforcements to the struggle against the epidemic. Earlier this year, she helped SVSU secure a $2.8 million grant from the U.S. Department of Health's Health Resources and Services Administration. Over the course of four years, the funds will allow 100 nurse practitioners to enroll in SVSU’s psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner post-graduate certificate program. Once certified, those nurses will be trained to combat the opioid epidemic — and other mental health care conditions — in those rural communities.


Schachman’s presentation is part of SVSU's annual Visiting Scholars and Artists programs. Her appearance will serve as SVSU’s annual Thomas and Hilda Rush Distinguished Lecture.


For more information about the Visiting Scholars and Artists speaker series, visit