Published: Fri, January 12, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Pennsylvania declares a statewide disaster emergency in response to opioid crisis

Pennsylvania declares a statewide disaster emergency in response to opioid crisis

This declaration will speed up and expand access to treatment, and improve tools for families, first responders and others in order to prevent the more than 3,500 deaths statewide from drug overdose each year.

An extraordinary step taken for the first time in Pennsylvania's history.

"I am pretty encouraged by this", she said.

Pennsylvania's governor is hoping a declaration of disaster emergency will provide additional tools to help the state respond to its opioid addiction crisis.

The move to make it easier to get people into treatment "is probably a good thing".

In addition, the state is moving to get hospitals to report when people are brought in with drug overdoses or babies are born with drugs in their systems, Levine said.

"For example, the Pennsylvania State Police and potentially the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, all state agencies that may have some role and capability to address this", said Rick Flinn, director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency. The Reading Eagle reported last month that Wernersville CCC had 31 nonfatal overdoses in the 21 months that ended November 4, more than any other halfway house in the state.

"But as we do, we understand we also have to act, quickly and decisively to make sure those numbers don't continue to grow", said Governor Tom Wolf. Administration officials said there has already been discussion about extending it into the future.

In the face of mounting opioid addiction rates - Pennsylvania has the fourth-highest overdose death rate in the United States - Penn students and faculty have also been working to fight the epidemic.

Long delays at under-pressure Lincolnshire hospitals
When they arrived, however, the hospital's A&E department was so overwhelmed that staff were unable to admit her. There were 4,734 emergency patients delayed for more than an hour, soaring from 2,413 people in the week before.

The declaration is valid for 90 days because that is the maximum allowed under the state Constitution.

"I applaud the governor's proclamation", he said. He called the declaration sloppy, pointing to a state statute that prohibits carrying a firearm in public during an emergency without a concealed carry permit or hunting license.

The move by Wolf, a Democrat, prompted reaction by state and federal officials across the political spectrum. "Congressional Republicans should give sustained focus to this problem and take up my legislation", Casey said.

The state's top prosecutor, Democratic Attorney General Josh Shapiro, called Wolf's action an important step.

"While we have made progress in combating the heroin and opioid abuse crisis and drastically expanded Pennsylvania's response, we are still losing far too many Pennsylvanians", Wolf said in a news release. Our arrests of medical personnel and others for illegally diverting prescription drugs are up 72 percent.

Those law enforcement efforts alone won't solve the problem, he said.

CCAP Human Services Committee Chair and Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick explained, "This downward spiraling trend in substance abuse has become a major cost driver across state and county budgets".

The opioid epidemic has hit the commonwealth hard over the past few years.

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