Eldridge leading health vending machine initiative

East Carolina University’s Dr. Lori Ann Eldridge was awarded a $300,000 grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration to spearhead a groundbreaking initiative in public health in North Carolina. This project supports Eldridge’s dedication and aims to enhance public health access and awareness by grant-funded installation and evaluation of innovative public health vending machines in Carteret, Jackson, Stanly, Surry and Swain counties.

Eldridge, an assistant professor in the Department of Health Education and Promotion, has partnered with Community Impact North Carolina, North Carolina Harm Reduction Coalition, five overdose prevention providers serving the five pre-identified rural counties in N.C. (Carteret, Jackson, Stanly, Surry, Swain) and five community health workers with lived experience (substance use) residing within the five counties. These machines will be strategically placed in these communities after engaging community members to determine ideal placement.

The public health vending machines will provide naloxone, which can rapidly reverse opioid overdose, and resource referrals. Resource referrals will provide users information about local healthcare providers, clinics, support groups and community organizations, helping them connect with vital services and support networks.

“Access to public health resources should not be a luxury,” Eldridge said. “Our goal is to empower individuals in these underserved areas in North Carolina to take control of their health by providing them with easy access to information and supplies. This grant from HRSA is a significant step toward achieving that goal.”

The installation of these public health vending machines is expected to begin in the coming months, with a focus on addressing the unique needs of each county. The project aims to improve public health awareness, promote preventive healthcare, improve harm reduction access, decrease overdose deaths and reduce health disparities in these communities.

For media inquiries or more information about this project, Eldridge is available at eldridgel21@ecu.edu or 252-328-2986.

This project is supported by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) as part of an award totaling $300,000 with no percentage financed with non-governmental sources. The contents are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official views of, nor an endorsement, by HRSA, HHS, or the U.S. Government. For more information, please visit HRSA.gov.