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NEWS RELEASE: Health care providers, organizations team up to combat opioid crisis

May 17, 2017

South Central PA Opioid Awareness Coalition launches during National Prevention Week

May 17, 2017

South Central Pennsylvania’s health care community today announced that it is presenting a united front in the war against opioid and heroin abuse, joining together to launch the South Central PA Opioid Awareness Coalition.

The announcement of the coalition coincides with National Prevention Week, held May 14-20, to increase public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues. As part of National Prevention Week, May 17 has been designated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration as a day to focus on the prevention of prescription and opioid drug misuse.

The new coalition is comprised of health systems; hospitals; medical and behavioral health providers; pharmacists; and health care professional associations and organizations. Membership in the collaborative spans Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties, as well as The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.

“The opioid epidemic touches every corner of our region, and its effects are felt across virtually every health care field,” said Alice Yoder, facilitator, South Central PA Opioid Awareness Coalition and director, community health, Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine. “Our organizations stand united in our commitment to raising awareness of this crisis and educating patients and health care providers about ways to prevent opioid abuse and addiction in our communities.”

South Central PA Opioid Awareness Coalition member organizations include:

  • Geisinger Holy Spirit
  • Hanover Hospital
  • Heart of Lancaster Medical Center and Lancaster Regional Medical Center
  • The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania
  • The Lancaster County Pharmacists Association
  • Lancaster General Health/Penn Medicine
  • Memorial Hospital
  • Penn State Health Milton S. Hershey Medical Center
  • Physicians’ Alliance Ltd.
  • PinnacleHealth
  • Summit Health
  • WellSpan Health

The coalition welcomes other organizations and health care providers who are willing to join their awareness campaign, which will educate members of the public on new opioid prescription protocols that are being enacted across the region. As part of these changes, many providers are now asking patients to sign a controlled substance agreement and to undergo drug screenings to assist in keeping the community safe.

“These changes are needed to help reduce the potential for abuse of prescription opioids,” Yoder explained, noting that 10 people a day died from drug overdoses with prescription opioids or heroin in Pennsylvania in 2015.

“Too many prescribed opioid medications are either being abused by patients or are making it into the hands of those who were not the intended recipients,” she continued. “Because we cannot know who may develop problems with these medicines, prescribers are working to try to prevent those problems with these changes.”

The coalition is urging members of the community to lock up prescription medications and to let their doctor or pharmacist know if there are any concerns or problems with misuse of the medication. In addition, the coalition is raising awareness of non-opioid alternatives for treating chronic pain.

“Serious addiction can start with a simple prescription,” Yoder said. “We are committed to working together to keep our patients, their families and the community safe from prescription pain medication and heroin abuse.”

In the near future, the coalition will unveil a website, which will include resources and information for community members.


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