Second Lady Karen Pence and U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams returned to Indiana Tuesday to highlight a new workplace drug rehabilitation program that is said to be the first of its kind.
Pathways To Employment launched this year at Belden in Richmond, Indiana. Pence toured the electric cable plant with other White House staff including President Donald Trump’s counsel Kellyanne Conway and says this program is part of the solution.
"Instead of turning your back on people battling drug addictions, Belden is coming alongside to provide that employee with an opportunity to get help and recover," says Pence.
Belden is the second largest employer in Wayne County, one of the counties hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. It needed to fill positions, but 10 percent of applicants were failing drug tests.
Now, if an applicant fails a test the company offers treatment with the promise of a job when they finish.
U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says it’s important to emphasis the magnitude of this drug crisis.
"It’s also important that everyone knows effective treatment is possible and people recover every day and we had the opportunity to meet some of those people this morning," says Adams.
Currently 21 people have participated in the Belden program.
Adams says this community-based solution is a step in the right direction.
"Where we can truly as a nation say addiction is a chronic disease and it must be treated with science, with urgency, but most importantly it must be treated with compassion," says Adams.
The program is also available to current employees dealing with addiction. Belden executives say they hope to offer their model to other companies.