After issuing the sixth renewal of his Opioid Disaster Declaration on Friday, Governor Tom Wolf is looking back and ahead as the fight against the state’s opioid epidemic continues.
Since Governor Tom Wolf first signed his Opioid Disaster Declaration in January 2018, he says more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians with opioid addictions have been connected to treatment through the “warm hand-off” program.
“I first signed the disaster declaration so the commonwealth would have every tool at its disposal to battle this health crisis and I have witnessed this collaborative effort grow and succeed,” Gov. Wolf said. “We continue to make improvements upon our strategy and find new techniques to reach people affected by the epidemic. I recently stopped by a meeting of the Opioid Command Center and saw firsthand the commitment and vigilance of the members who have been meeting weekly for a year and a half to strategize.”
The governor was joined by Insurance Commissioner Jessica Altman, Sec. of Health Dr. Rachel Levine, Sec. of Drug and Alcohol Programs Jennifer Smith, members of the Command Center, and legislators as he signed the renewal and announced two new initiatives: guidance on naloxone and insurance, and the release of the Opioid Data Dashboard 2.0.
In 2018, Dr. Rachel Levine issued a standing order for naloxone so loved ones, medical professionals and anyone interested in accessing this life-saving medication would have access to it. Now, the Insurance Department is working to encourage insurers to consider the circumstances surrounding a naloxone prescription as underwriters review potential health, life and other policies.
“The commonwealth enters the sixth disaster declaration renewal with preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control continuing to indicate a decrease in opioid overdose deaths in the
state,” Gov. Wolf said. “And while that’s good news, we know we have more work to do and so will continue to identify problem areas and find new solutions for addressing opioid use disorder. And we will not let up until we have won the battle against opioids in our commonwealth.”
Through the collaborative efforts of the Opioid Command Center and its partners, Pennsylvania has:
• Removed about 285 tons of prescription drugs from our streets through take-back
• Connected more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians to treatment through a warm hand-off
• Assisted more than 18,000 individuals with accessing treatment through one of our
Centers of Excellence,
• Provided guidance to more than 43,000 individuals who have called our 1-800-Get-HelpNow hotline,
• Administered 21,419 live-saving doses of naloxone.
• Distributed more than 6,000 naloxone kits during “Get Help Now Day” in December,
• Implemented dozens of initiatives to increase access to treatment, aid in recovery, and
innovatively spend federal State Opioid Response dollars to maximize their benefit.
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