Governor Wolf Declares State of Emergency for Growing Opioid Epidemic


Wolf's announcement makes Pennsylvania the eighth state to declare a disaster declaration for opioid abuse. As Eyewitness News Reporter Crystal Cranmore explains- with a stroke of a pen this afternoon the Governor sent state resources into action.

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in response to the state's escalating crisis of addiction and overdoses involving heroin and other opioid drugs.

Wolf acknowledged that the move "isn't a silver bullet" to solve the crisis.

The city's health department recently received a 2-year state grand to become a "centralized coordinating entity", or hub that distributes naloxone to first responders, Wenrich said.

Starting with a new taskforce called the opioid operational command center.

It also opens up the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program, otherwise known as PMP Aware, to be shared by the Department of Health with other state agencies, including the Departments of Human Services and Drug and Alcohol Programs.

It was the biggest jump in any state except Florida, and leaves the commonwealth with the fourth-highest rate of overdose death in the country.

Under this declaration - now, they can.

Pennsylvania suffered more than 4,600 fatal drug overdoses in 2016, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration.

The emergency disaster declaration waives a state requirement that a doctor must have a face-to-face interaction with a person before admitting them into a treatment program.

It is a "first-of-its-kind" declaration in a health emergency, officials said, and the latest step in the fight against heroin and opioids. Counties have a critical role in addressing this epidemic and have made it one of their chosen priorities for 2018. "It is the worst public health crisis that we have faced in Pennsylvania".

Citing his membership in the York Regional Opiate Collaborative, Wagner urged the governor "to come to one of our meetings so we can share with him our methods and work together to tackle this public health emergency".

"I routinely challenge all commonwealth agencies to think innovatively about how they continue to address the opioid epidemic and seek solutions that last long beyond our tenure in this building", Wolf told reporters Wednesday in Harrisburg.

The move aims to waive rules that create barriers to fighting the prescription painkiller and heroin epidemic and the first initiatives are centered on three areas: improving coordination and data collection; increasing access to tools that help families and first responders; and boosting access to treatment.

Changes include letting high-performing drug treatment facilities bypass some licensing requirements, and letting emergency workers leave extra Naloxone with overdose patients in case they need to be revived again.