Letter: United Way investing in underreported effects of pandemic

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 3, 2022

For two years, we have witnessed an incredible toll delivered to our country and community by the COVID-19 pandemic.

There have been an unimaginable number of deaths from the pandemic. Our frontline hospital workers have been taken to a breaking point. Our education system has been strained. It goes on and on, this list of pandemic-related problems that have overwhelmed us at times.

Overshadowed and underreported has been the impact the pandemic has had on substance abuse problems in our country. Those numbers have progressively gotten worse over the past two years and will continue to do so as the pandemic subsides.

Thanks to funding from Rowan County United Way, the substance abuse outpatient programs run by Nazareth Child & Family Connection in Salisbury have been able to continue in Rowan County throughout the pandemic in attempt to stem the increase in those numbers.

Nazareth specifically uses that money to provide services to the uninsured and under-insured and because of that we can continue to be an agency that does not turn people away because of the lack of ability to pay.

During the first 11 months of 2021, Nazareth’s Salisbury office conducted over 5,300 office or telehealth visit with 554 clients. Almost half of those visits were for individuals with a primary diagnosis related to addiction. Of those 554 clients, 274 were children. It would have been impossible to have handled that many clients without funding from the Rowan County United Way.

The cost of recovery is not inexpensive and would be out of reach for most if not for agencies like the Rowan County United Way. The average weekly cost for substance abuse treatment with Nazareth can range from $533 for intensive outpatient treatment to $265 for individual treatment and $165 for group sessions.

Those without insurance can’t afford this and it is difficult for those with insurance and a high co-pay.

In the end, though, recovery has great value to communities. When people get sober, it positively impacts their ability to remain employed and to contribute to the community. It improves their family life, which improves the lives of their children.

We are blessed and thankful to have an agency like the Rowan County United Way that recognizes that value and is willing to invest in that improvement of lives and community.

— Vernon Walters Jr.


Editor’s note: Vernon Walters Jr. is president and CEO of Nazareth Child & Family Connection.