Even with state disaster declarations, combating opioid epidemic is uphill battle

NBC10 Exclusive Generation Addicted TV Special

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.

"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.

Wolf says the declaration will increase the state's response to the epidemic and allow agencies to work more closely together.

"Just buying Narcan and Naloxone doesn't help unless we treat people after their incident", Garrighan said.

Lawmakers intend to chime in with their own ideas about how to continue fighting the crisis, said state Rep. Gene DiGirolamo, R-Bucks County, and state Rep. Matt Baker, R-Bradford County, in a joint statement.

"Addiction and opioid use disorder are medical conditions". In addition, the declaration permits pharmacists to partner with prisons and treatment programs to make the drug available to people being discharged from these facilities.

CCAP noted that enhanced collaboration among state and local authorities to develop and implement a comprehensive approach to addressing the opioid and heroin epidemic is critical to the success of any efforts.

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Jennifer Smith, acting secretary of the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said one that has sometimes slowed access to treatment is a requirement that people reaching certain points in the system must meet face-to-face with a physician.

"The declaration enables us to waive requirements on a broad basis without the need for those providers to submit specific requests to us", she said. The state's rate of drug overdoses is more than twice the national average. New laws can not be created under the emergency. The certificates are often required as proof of residency for insurance and treatment programs and can be a surprising barrier to getting into treatment.

Waiving the fee provided for in statue for birth certificates who request a good-cause waiver affected by OUD.

Regulations on some drug treatment centers will be eased to make them easier to get into. With data still being collected for 2017, the increase over 2016 should be around 10 percent, he said.

"The opioid and heroin crisis has rightfully drawn bipartisan attention in Congress and all levels of government, with President Trump having already taken the extraordinary step of declaring a nationwide public health emergency".

The declaration was accompanied by a number of steps, including allowing emergency responders to leave behind the overdose antidote naloxone when responding to a call for help and the patient declines transportation to a hospital.

Wolf has made the fight against the opioid crisis a major area of focus for his administration. Law enforcement officials and Butler County Coroner William Young III have said that most of the deaths can be attributed fentanyl, a potent cousin of morphine.

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