Wolf turns to disaster emergency to deal with opioid crisis

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf shows the document he signed declaring a state of emergency in the state's fight against heroin and opioid addiction during a news conference at the state Capitol in Harrisburg Pa. Wednesday Jan. 10 2018. In the background

Gov. Wolf to make announcement of new executive action in fight against heroin and opioid epidemic

Jennifer Smith, secretary of the state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, said she'll be able to quickly say yes to removing requirements set on the state's 800 treatment providers.

Wernersville, Wolf said, has seen a large amount of drug use and overdoses.

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.

Adding overdose and Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome as reportable conditions to increase data collection.

The health emergency effort, Melton said, is slowing down "the rate of worsening of the crisis".

The announcement comes as Pennsylvania is expected to report another year of increasing overdose deaths.

The move by Wolf, a Democrat, prompted reaction by state and federal officials across the political spectrum.

A strong message from the governor, he said, sends a message to the entire bureaucracy that it needs to address the crisis cooperatively.

"This declaration while it's not a silver bullet".

Gov. Larry Hogan understood that the state needed a "neutral" structure - the state's emergency management apparatus - to break down barriers and focus attention at the state and local levels, including the business and faith-based communities.

The administration established a dedicated command center in the emergency management center.

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"But as we continue losing more Pennsylvanians to overdoses, it's clear we must do more", Shapiro said.

Several other states - such as MA and Alaska - have taken similar measures aimed at curbing the increasing number of opioid overdose deaths plaguing the nation.

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.

"You have to put some oomph into it", Benjamin said. Administration officials said there has already been discussion about extending it into the future. That's how many people the opioid crisis claimed statewide in 2016, and preliminary data strongly suggest that the number was even higher in 2017.

Empty bank accounts are forcing states to get creative.

Like the other states with emergency declarations, Alaska also took steps to give pharmacies permission to dispense naloxone. It is no less an emergency for occurring over the course of a year.

"Pennsylvania has a big problem, and we need to confront it", Wolf said.

Regulations on some drug treatment centers will be eased to make them easier to get into.

"This is a long term look at how we solve a very huge health crisis in our community", said Dahlkemper. Opioid addiction is "a chronic disease of the brain".

CCAP Human Services Committee Chair and Dauphin County Commissioner George Hartwick explained, "This downward spiraling trend in substance abuse has become a major cost driver across state and county budgets". In November 2014, then-Gov.

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