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Governor: Opioid crisis a statewide disaster emergency
12 January 2018, 11:53 | Erica Roy
Gov. Wolf announces state of emergency for opioid epidemic
With opioids killing more people than any other health crisis in Pennsylvania's modern history, Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday declared a disaster emergency that suspends regulations hindering access to addiction care. This declaration will bring additional resources to bear on this horrific public health emergency that has ripped apart far too many families.
"It's imperative that we use every tool to contain and eradicate this public health crisis", Wolf said.
Stamp, who has a decadeslong career in emergency management, lauded Wolf for also putting the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency at the head of the state's crisis response team.
There are several reclassifications under the declaration.
"But as we continue losing more Pennsylvanians to overdoses, it's clear we must do more", Shapiro said.
"They are disease, s they are not a moral failing and this disease in Pennsylvania has reached this epidemic proportion", said Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's acting secretary of health and physician general.
"Any implication otherwise to score cheap political points around the greatest public health crisis in our lifetimes is flat-out wrong", he said.
The County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania (CCAP) noted its support for the Governor's declaration of Pennsylvania's heroin and opioid addiction crisis as a statewide disaster emergency.
The main objective 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. Wolf's office said the move provides wider access to the state's prescription drug monitoring program and makes it easier for medical professionals to get people into treatment more quickly. It will expire in 90 days as required by the state Constitution.
Some of the provisions, such as making overdoses in which the victim survives a reportable condition, will give the state more information to use to understand and respond to the crisis, officials said.
Officials said it may be the first time Pennsylvania has made such a declaration in response to a health 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.
"This declaration while it's not a silver bullet". Wolf said there was a preliminary count of 5,260 drug deaths during 2017.
The move is a first of its kind for Pennsylvania, which has one of the highest rates of drug overdoses in the country.
The House Republican chairs of the human services and health committee said Wolf's announcement spelled out "positive steps".
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. For as little as $3, you can help us.
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