Tuesday, 23 January, 2018

5 takeaways from Gov. Wolf's opioid disaster declaration

AP License N  A Created 2017:03:16 12:22:51 Gov. Wolf to make announcement of new executive action in fight against heroin and opioid epidemic
Melissa Porter | 14 January, 2018, 15:52

"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 move eases some regulations that have been barriers to help for the addicted and their families.

"I pledge to do everything in my power to stop this scourge", Wolf said on Wednesday.

The proliferation of illicit fentanyl, a synthetic opioid designed for use in medical settings that can cause an overdose in minuscule amounts, has been a principal cause in large jumps in overdoses and deaths.

The existing naloxone standing order and funding for naloxone to first responders has allowed for more than 5,000 lives to be saved, the release says.

"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. Moreover, more recent analysis shows that Pennsylvania's rate of increase in overdose deaths is one of the very highest in the country, even as many other states are seeing drops or plateaus.

The emergency proclamation covers 90 days because that's the maximum allowed by law. It seeks to bolster the fight against heroin and opioid addiction by enhancing the state's response, increasing access to treatment and saving lives.

The crisis hit Butler County particularly hard in 2017.

It comes after Pennsylvania registered 4,642 overdose deaths in 2016, the most recent full year available.

The main goal of the disaster declaration, officials said, is to temporarily waive regulations that can impede efforts to respond to the crisis, and to better coordinate the state-wide response.

Waiving separate licensing requirements for hospitals and emergency departments to expand access to drug and alcohol treatment.

"It's a matter of listening to the experts, the people who provide the services, and coming together to determine what we need to do locally, and what we need to do more of, to address the issue", she said.

Fees to have a duplicate birth certificate produced will be waived.

EMS providers, for example, will now be able to leave behind the overdose antidote naloxone with those treated or surrounding the scene of an overdose.

The move gives the nine agencies access the state's prescription drug monitoring database to track the quantity of opioid pills doctors and others are issuing.

The declaration frees up resources and allows Pennsylvania officials to temporarily override any rules or regulations they perceive as hampering the state's ability to address the epidemic. Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia have previously made similar declarations.