HARRISBURG—Tuesday marked the seventh renewal of Pennsylvania’s Opioid Disaster Declaration. As has become routine, Pennsylvania will continue its use of a 90-day disaster declaration to fight the opioid crisis. Governor Tom Wolf first signed the declaration in January 2018 as a mechanism for state agencies, third-party organizations and stakeholders to work collaboratively, loosen regulations that slow down access to treatment, and increase efforts on prevention, treatment, and recovery for thousands of Pennsylvanians suffering from the opioid crisis.
“The disaster declaration and its provisions remain a strong force in battling the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Through the Opioid Command Center and its dedicated 17 state agencies collaborating on education, prevention, rescue and recovery, we have been able to make progress that resulted in a deduction in overdose deaths in 2018. But we are far from proclaiming victory and the continuation of the disaster declaration means a continuation of a commitment to doing all we can to fight this scourge on 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 more than 800 take-back boxes,
- Connected more than 5,000 Pennsylvanians to treatment through a warm hand-off program,
- Assisted more than 18,000 individuals with accessing treatment through one of 45 Centers of Excellence,
- Provided guidance to more than 43,000 individuals who have called the 1-800-Get-Help-Now hotline,
- Administered more than 25,000 live-saving doses of naloxone,
- Distributed more than 6,000 naloxone kits during the first “Get Help Now Day” in December 2018,
- Implemented dozens of initiatives to increase access to treatment, aid in recovery, and innovatively spend federal State Opioid Response dollars to maximize their benefit.
The commonwealth was recently awarded the second highest amount of federal Department of Health and Human Services state opioid response funding to continue with programs already underway that focus on housing, education, and expanded medication-assisted treatment programs, among others. Since 2017, Pennsylvania has been allocated $141 million in federal funding.
The state, under the leadership of the Department of Health and Opioid Command Center, has two planned naloxone kit giveaway days – September 18 and 25 – with 95 locations across the state distributing free kits while supplies last. During the eight-day period between September 18 and 25, multiple state agencies will host or promote programs and initiatives to help fight the opioid crisis.
In addition, the Opioid Command Center will host its first Opioid Summit, “Think Globally, Act Locally,” October 1 and 2 in State College. Gov. Wolf will provide opening day remarks for the summit attendees, which will include professionals, community members, families and all others who have been affected by the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania.