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Opioid Disaster Declaration

Governor Wolf first signed the opioid disaster declaration in January of 2018.

On Wednesday, that order expired after state lawmakers declined to extend it.

House majority leader Kerry Benninghoff released this statement that said in part, “Given that many of the benefits of the opioid disaster emergency declaration are now accomplished through other means, it is clear renewing the declaration is unnecessary.”

Some of those means included the prescription drug monitoring program and the drug take back program.

Hospitals throughout the region are reacting to this news.

“By the fact that the declaration has ended I don’t believe that it’s really going to change any of the good efforts that’s going on,” said Richard Nenneau, VP of Behavioral Health Services Penn Highlands Healthcare.

Nenneau said the declaration expanded funding for the health system.

Just recently, Penn Highlands was awarded a one million dollar grant to fight the opioid crisis in rural Pennsylvania.

“What we’ve done is identify some gaps in the services in the region and what the grant does is it seeks to address those gaps in services,” said Nenneau.

With this money they plan to:

Expand behavioral and mental health services in rural communities
Increase access to medication assistance services
Expand efforts to support care for neo-natal abstinence syndrome babies
Increase referrals of clients to existing services
Educate first responders on handling the opioid crisis

Nenneau said he’s not sure if or when the expiration of this declaration will have an impact on future funding for the hospital. State lawmakers said the opioid crisis will be a top priority when they return from summer recess in the fall.

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