Pennsylvania seeing benefits of disaster emergency in opioid crisis

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — The state Department of Health has received 113 reports of babies born with withdrawal symptoms since Jan. 10.

It’s been 45 days since Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf declared the state’s opioid epidemic a public health emergency.

“I’m hoping that this declaration will allow us to work more closely together,” said Wolf.

Which is why he ordered a command center to bring agencies together to provide better access to data and more solutions to solving the crisis. The command center’s incident commander, Ray Barishansky, is already seeing positive outcomes.

EMTs are responding positively to an initiative that allows them to leave Naloxone with an overdose patient who has been revived.

“The Naloxone leave-behind program gives families the opportunity to keep their loved ones alive,” Barishansky said. “Treatment is only possible for people who are living.”

Another initiative puts full-body scanners in correctional facilities to keep drugs out.

“So far, no overdoses have been observed in the building since the scanner has been operational,” said Barishansky.

Acting Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine says the command center has worked exactly as they’d hoped, but with the state’s rate of drug overdoses at more than twice the national average in 2016, the goal of reversing that trend will take time.

“I think that we’re right on schedule in terms of the initiatives that we’ve been working on,” Levine said, “but we have a lot more work to do.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s