Governor declares opioid emergency in PA

Gov. Wolf to make announcement of new executive action in fight against heroin and opioid epidemic

Gov. Wolf announces state of emergency for opioid epidemic

At a Capitol press conference, Wolf outlined many actions that would occur in association with the declaration, including the opening of an opioid operations command center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency.

The move eases some regulations that have been barriers to help for the addicted and their families.

Yoder said Wolf's announcement "many opportunities for improvement" in the methods for dealing with drug-use and overdose issues. "We really applaud the effort and the focus on the heroin and opioid epidemic and really think this could be a major breakthrough to getting people they need and deserve in their recovery", said Jason Kisielewski.

"We know that this crisis has taken far too many lives, it has broken far too many families, it has decimated far too many communities", Wolf said.

More than 4,600 Pennsylvanians died from drug overdoses in 2016.

The emergency proclamation covers 90 days because that's the maximum allowed by law. Moreover, more recent analysis shows that Pennsylvania's rate of increase in overdose deaths is one of the very highest in the country, even as many other states are seeing drops or plateaus.

Lawmakers intend to chime in with their own ideas about how to continue fighting the crisis, said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County, and state Rep. Matt Baker, R-Bradford County, in a joint statement.

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There are 13 key initiatives listed in the declaration that will include a collaboration between state agencies such as Departments of health, drug and alcohol programs and Pennsylvania State Police. With the governor's order, the state will waive that requirement so that other health care professionals can give the go-ahead to get people into drug treatment as soon as possible.

"The declaration enables us to waive requirements on a broad basis without the need for those providers to submit specific requests to us", she said.

Waiving the fee provided for in statue for birth certificates who request a good-cause waiver affected by OUD.

"EMS has been asking us if they can leave behind a kit of nalaxone.if they overdose again." added Dr. Rachel Levine, Secretary PA Department of Health. His administration also provided funding to create treatment centers of excellence and increase access to the overdose reversal drug naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan.

"Pennsylvania now becomes the eighth state to declare such a State of Emergency". Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia have previously made similar declarations.

Gail Groves Scott, manager of the Substance Use Disorders Institute at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a Lancaster Township resident, called Wolf's declaration "a disappointment to those who were hoping it would bring real change". Steps he announced in conjunction with the declaration ideally will help to at least mitigate the crisis in coming months.

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