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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

July 22, 2019

Wolf Administration Announces Collaboration, Funding to Improve Care for Survivors of an Opioid Overdose

Doylestown, PA – The Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) alongside Independence Blue Cross Foundation (IBX) and Bucks County Drug and Alcohol Commission, Inc. (BCDAC, Inc.) today announced DDAP will provide BCDAC, Inc. with $650,000 in grant funding to improve care for survivors of an opioid overdose in Bucks County, PA.

In 2017, IBX completed a study that examined emergency department warm hand-off programs and procedures. DDAP’s funding will implement several best practices identified in the study including funding additional Certified Recovery Specialists (CRS) in all six local hospitals, as well as providing family support and hospital staff education by health care professionals who are in long-term recovery. DDAP’s funding is part of the $55.9 million Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Association grant awarded to the commonwealth to bolster the state’s response to the opioid epidemic.

“Over the past year thousands of lives have been saved through warm hand-off programs,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith. “We know this is a key component in strengthening the drug and alcohol landscape throughout Pennsylvania and the Administration is committed to helping counties with its implementation. Additionally, the common denominator for many individuals seeking treatment are CRSs. They are an invaluable asset to our field and we want to support their work whenever and however possible.”

To further efforts, IBX will be commissioning a second study that will re-evaluate the county’s warm hand-off program, track outcomes, and provide further recommendations slated to begin in September 2019.

“This study, and the one that will follow, are important benchmarks for measuring the success of what is one of the most critical pieces of the recovery process — getting someone into substance use treatment as quickly as possible,” said Lorina Marshall-Blake, president of the Independence Blue Cross Foundation. “We’re excited that this research was a valuable tool in providing additional resources for Bucks County, and for broader discussions across the state focused on combatting the growing opioid epidemic.”

Today, warm hand-off programs at various levels of implementation exist around the commonwealth. Since January 2017, more than 5,000 individuals have been directly referred to treatment as part of the warm hand-off concept. Counties with successful implementations are seeing a success rate of 90 percent of overdose survivors directly admitted into drug and alcohol treatment following an overdose.

In February 2017, the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and Health, and Pennsylvania chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians released a clinical pathway designed to create an easy transition from care for an opioid overdose to treatment for an opioid use disorder. As part of an update in the 2015-2020 grant agreement between DDAP and local Single County Authorities (SCA), SCAs are now required to establish a warm hand-off policy locally.

For more information about the work the Wolf Administration is doing to combat the opioid crisis, visit pa.gov/opioids.

MEDIA CONTACT:  Rachel Kostelac, 717.547.3314

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Yesterday, after Governor Wolf delivered his 2019/20 budget address to the General Assembly, the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Human Services (DHS) held a budget briefing updating stakeholders on the status of 2018/19 initiatives and rolling out the Governor’s 2019/20 DOH/DHS budget initiatives. The Governor’s main initiatives for DOH and DHS for the upcoming fiscal year are as follows:

  • Increase the minimum wage;
  • Help low-income working parents support their families;
  • Strengthen high quality care for infants and toddlers;
  • Expand evidence-based home visiting;
  • Expand services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism on the waiting list;
  • Protect individuals in personal care homes and residential and day-treatment programs;
  • Support Pennsylvanians with disabilities;
  • Invest in mental health services; and
  • Combat the opioid epidemic.

For further information on the above initiatives, please see the DOH and DHS PowerPoint presentations. Questions, contact RCPA Director of Government Affairs Jack Phillips.

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (DOH) has created a brain injury identification wallet card. The card was created as a result of a telephone call from an individual with a brain injury who moved from another state. The individual was inquiring as to whether PA had a card that could be used in emergent situations that would easily identify him as having a brain injury and his symptoms. The wallet card is available on the DOH website. The intent of the card is to provide a document for individuals with a brain injury that could be used to communicate their symptoms and emergency information to emergency personnel or the public.

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The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and the Physician General, today announced the availability of up to $5 million, in state FY 2017/2018 funds, to support the provision of Naloxone to first responders for a two-year period. The Intranasal Naloxone kits will be provided directly to each approved applicant in accordance with a state procured contract and through a state procured vendor. This solicitation is in response to the opioid epidemic gripping the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

PCCD will provide one Centralized Coordinating Entity (CCE) per county or region with Intranasal Naloxone kits to be utilized by a broad category of first responders within that county or region. It will be up to the county or region to determine the appropriate entity to serve as their CCE. PCCD is aware that many counties already have a process in place to ensure that Naloxone is provided to first responders and we encourage you to work within your current framework to utilize this additional supply of Naloxone.

Please note that all applications must be submitted electronically to RA-PCCD_ExecutiveOfc@pa.gov no later than November 6, 2017.  Questions should also be directed to the RA-PCCD_ExecutiveOfc@pa.gov email account.

Please follow this link to view the guidelines and application form.

(Provided by Jennifer Smith, Acting Secretary of DDAP)

The Pennsylvania Department of Health (PA-DOH), in collaboration with the state’s Academy of Pediatrics’ Medical Home Initiative (PA-AAP, MHI), is working to increase access to medical homes for children, youth, and young adults, including those with special health care needs.” Medical Homes are comprehensive, team-based care that takes into account the whole person. Input from a broad range of health, behavioral health, dental, and social support providers, as well as families, is needed. Over the past month, PA-DOH and PA-AAP, MHI have conducted stakeholder meetings across Pennsylvania. Now, you are invited to participate in a Stakeholder Input Survey and provide your ideas about strengthening the medical home approach in your community.

For practitioners, providers, and consumers supporting integrated physical health and behavioral health care, this opportunity to share our perspectives and ideas should not be missed. Also, please feel free to share this survey information with colleagues in health care, mental health, education, children and youth services, and families in your community.