SCRANTON, Pa., March 2, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Karen Murphy and Secretary of Aging Secretary Teresa Osborne today joined local officials to launch the Lackawanna County Opioid Overdose Coalition.
"I salute the work of the coalition," Secretary Murphy said. "Community efforts are critical to addressing this devastating public health crisis. The Wolf Administration is committed to executing a multifaceted approach to diminish impact of the opioid crisis in all communities across the commonwealth."
In 2015, Lackawanna County experienced 69 fatal overdoses, most of which were attributed to opioids.
"Substance use disorder, particularly relating to prescription drug use, among adults age 60 and older is one of the fastest growing health problems facing the country," said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. "Stigma and an overall lack of awareness has, unfortunately, created a nearly invisible epidemic among this population. We are steadfast in our commitment to protecting older Pennsylvanians and their families from suffering from this disease."
The Lackawanna County Opioid Overdose Coalition is spearheaded by Lackawanna District Attorney Shane Scanlon. Its vision is to create a healthier community by eliminating deaths associated with opioids.
The Wolf Administration holds the fight against heroin and prescription opioids as a top priority. In order to continue the battle against the opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania, Governor Wolf included the following proposals in his 2017-18 budget:
- Expanding access to life-saving Naloxone by providing $10 million through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency to first responders and law enforcement across the state;
- Maximizing federal Cures Act funding, which includes $26.5 million in each of the next two years for Pennsylvania, to expand access to treatment services, particularly for individuals who are uninsured or underinsured; and
- Providing $3.4 million to expand specialty drug courts to expand treatment strategies that divert offenders into more meaningful treatment and recovery.
- Some of the administration's other initiatives to fight the opioid epidemic include:
- Strengthening the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) so that doctors are required and able to check the system each time they prescribe opioids;
- Forming new prescribing guidelines to help doctors, including geriatricians, who provide opioid prescriptions to their patients;
- Creating the warm handoff guideline to facilitate referrals from the emergency department to substance abuse treatment;
- Educating and encouraging seniors to properly use, store and dispose of unused prescription medications through Drug Take-Back initiatives;
- Increasing the availability of naloxone;
- Establishing a new law limiting the amount of opioids that can be prescribed to a minor to seven days; and
- Designating 45 Centers of Excellence, central hubs that provide navigators to assist those with opioid use disorders with behavioral and physical health care, along with medication-assisted treatment, as needed.
If you or someone you know is suffering from the disease of addiction, call 1-800-662-HELP or visit www.pa.gov/opioids for treatment options. For more information on the fight against opioid abuse in Pennsylvania, visit the Department of Health website at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.
MEDIA CONTACTS: April Hutcheson, Health, 717-787-1783 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Drew Wilburne, Aging, 717-705-3702
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SOURCE Pennsylvania Department of Health