HERSHEY – Pennsylvania Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine on Friday spoke to members of Pennsylvania’s judicial community about the opioid epidemic and how opioids can affect those with a work-related injury.
“Pennsylvania has one of the highest percentages of injured workers who become long-term opioid users in the nation,” Dr. Levine said.
“We are working to help all long-term opioid users find alternative methods of treatment. We have made tremendous progress over the last year to address this crisis, but we remain laser-focused and committed to continuing to address substance use disorder in the commonwealth.”
The Opioid Command Center, established in January of 2018 when Gov. Tom Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, meets every week to discuss the opioid crisis.
The command center is staffed by personnel from 16 state agencies, spearheaded by the departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs.
The Department of Labor and Industry is a key part of the command center, working to assist in the efforts surrounding workers’ compensation.
Work to address the opioid crisis focuses on three areas: prevention, rescue and treatment. Efforts over the past four years, working with state agencies, local, regional and federal officials, have resulted in significant action to address the opioid crisis:
- The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has reduced opioid prescriptions by 25 percent and has virtually eliminated doctor shopping.
- The Opioid Data Dashboard and Data Dashboard 2.0 has provided public-facing data regarding prevention, rescue and treatment.
- Eight PacMAT centers are serving as part of a hub-and-spoke model to provide treatment to people where they live, with $16.7 million invested into the centers.
- 45 Centers of Excellence, administered by the Department of Human Services, provide evidence-based treatment to those on Medicaid suffering from a drug addiction, with nearly 19,000 people engaged with the Centers of Excellence.
- The waiver of birth certificate fees for those with opioid use disorder has helped more than 2,100 people, enabling easier entry into recovery programs.
- A standing order signed by Dr. Rachel Levine in 2018 allowed EMS to leave behind close to 1,100 doses of naloxone.
- Education has been provided to more than 4,000 prescribers through either online or face-to-face education.
- More than 22,000 physicians have been visited and provided training on how to prescribe opioids cautiously and judiciously.
- 813 drug take-back boxes help Pennsylvanians properly dispose of unwanted drugs, including 482,000 pounds of unwanted drugs in 2018.
- The Get Help Now Hotline has received more than 43,000 calls, with nearly half of all callers connected directly to a treatment provider.
- The state prison system has expanded their Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) program, which is viewed as a model program for other states.
- A body scanner pilot project was successful in reducing overdoses and violent crime in a number of facilities. Body scanners are in place in more than 30 locations and are currently being expanded to additional facilities.
- More than 100 licensed physicians or prescribers have been disciplined for wrongful practice over the past two years.
- Several agencies have worked together to collaborate on the seizure and destruction of illicit opioids across Pennsylvania.
- Education and training on opioids has been provided to schools. Future plans are in place to make opioid education a standard component of their school-based training.
- The coordination with seven major commercial providers has expand access to naloxone and mental health care, while also working to make it more affordable.
- Naloxone has been made available to first responders through the Commission on Crime and Delinquency, with more than 25,000 doses made available and more than 4,500 saves through that program. In addition, EMS have administered nearly 21,500 doses of naloxone and more than 6,100 doses were made available to members of the public during the state’s naloxone distribution last year.
More information on the opioid crisis can be found on the Department of Health’s Web site at health.pa.gov or follow on Facebook or Twitter.