PEORIA — UnityPoint Health has received a $1.68 million grant through the Illinois Department of Human Services to aid in the treatment of opioid use disorder.

The two-year grant is part of the State Opioid Response Hospital Screening and Warm Handoff Project, which provides round-the-clock assessment and referral services within the hospital. There will also be training for more than 40 physicians and providers to become authorized under the Drug Addiction Treatment Act to prescribe or administer buprenorphine, a medication used to treat opioid addiction, if needed.

“This will be a valuable service to people who are impacted by the opioid crisis. Along with appropriate case management and referral support, this funding will help us better connect hospital patients with the continued care they need,” said Dean Steiner, UnityPoint's behavioral health director.

Communities across the country are being affected by the opioid crisis, and Illinois is no exception. It’s estimated 250,000 people in the state have an opioid use disorder. From 1999 to 2016, opioid-related overdose deaths increased 300%, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

The project aims to tackle the issue by supporting the creation of hospital-based programs that include evidence-based screenings, brief intervention and referral to treatment with warm handoff services for people with opioid-use disorder.

The state awarded a total of $10 million in grants, with UnityPoint Health one of eight hospitals to receive funds.