Vaya Health has been honored for its work to prevent fatal opioid drug overdoses in western North Carolina.

The Avery Journal reports the N.C. Council of Community Programs awarded the Asheville-based public managed care organization with a 2017 Programs of Excellence Award.

From 1999 to 2016, more than 12,000 North Carolinians died from opioid-related overdoses, according to state health officials, and the mountains and foothills regions have been hit especially hard, devastating families and communities in the 23 counties that Vaya serves, including Ashe, Avery, and Watauga.

According to the report, in 2016, Vaya funded more than 1,300 cartons of naloxone nasal spray for distribution by the N.C. Harm Reduction Coalition. In 2017, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services called upon Vaya to coordinate the purchase of nearly 50,000 naloxone cartons for use statewide, with Vaya distributing 5400 cartons in western North Carolina.

Vaya Health manages public funds for mental health, substance use disorder and intellectual or developmental disability services in 23 western North Carolina counties. Learn more online at VayaHealth.com.