Gov. Tom Wolf to Declare Disaster Emergency for Opioid Crisis in Pennsylvania

Gov. Tom Wolf to Declare Disaster Emergency for Opioid Crisis in Pennsylvania

One of the challenges first responders face when giving overdose victims the opiod-reversal drug nalaxone, is not being able to get them into treatment right away.

The move to better coordinate the state's response between agencies should be helpful, said Dr. Joseph Garbely, the medical director of Caron Treatment Centers, based in Wernersville.

Pennsylvania's governor was preparing to issue a declaration of disaster emergency Wednesday, hoping its additional tools will help the state respond to the expanding opioid addiction crisis.

The declaration signed to enhance state response, increase access to treatment, and save lives.

-Waiving fees for birth certificates for addicts to increase access to treatment.

The move is appropriate though, considering the seriousness of the problem, "the worst public health crisis we've faced" in a generation, she said. It requires that overdoses and neonatal abstinence syndrome - the medical term applied to children born addicted to drugs - are added as reportable conditions and tracked by state and local entities.

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. The state launched a prescription drug monitoring program to cut down on doctor shopping and identify pill mills.

"This declaration while it's not a silver bullet".

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The emergency order technically covers 90 days. "We look forward to working with the General Assembly and administration on meaningful reforms that serve our residents and families, as well as guide the future health of our communities".

"The opioid and heroin crisis has rightfully drawn bipartisan attention in Congress and all levels of government", Toomey, a Republican, said in the statement, noting that President Donald Trump had described the problems as "public health emergency" in October.

Governor Wolf made the decision based on the continuing crisis and the devastating numbers associated with the epidemic.

Pennsylvania would become at least the eighth state to declare some sort of emergency as a result of the opioid epidemic, joining Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia.

"I have introduced legislation that would invest $45 billion in programs that combat opioid addiction and provide treatment for those who need it".

The Pennsylvania physician general will reclassify fentanyl and similar drugs as Schedule 1 narcotics to limit access and open drug dealers to steep criminal penalties.

"But as we continue losing more Pennsylvanians to overdoses, it's clear we must do more", Shapiro said.

Wolf's declaration is created to increase access to treatment and save lives.

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