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Wolf Administration Holds First Warm Hand-off Regional Summit

March 23, 2018

Yesterday, the Wolf Administration held the first of six Warm Hand-off Regional Summits in Harrisburg. With Pennsylvania facing the fourth-highest opioid death rate in the country, these summits are intended to promote collaboration among state government, county governments, county and regional services, private insurers, HAP, behavioral health facilities, and the hospital and provider communities.

The series is funded by a 21st Century Cures grant administered by the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs in coordination with the Department of Health, and is conducted in partnership with the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, Department of Aging, Insurance Department, Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.

During the summit’s opening session, Governor Tom Wolf delivered a video message during which he underscored the importance of warm hand-off programs. Wolf called warm hand-off an “essential step” to recovery.” Without it, he emphasized, the cycle of overdoses will continue.

During her opening remarks, Jennifer Smith, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs, provided an update about the joint efforts of the administration’s agencies to address the opioid epidemic. Smith commended Pennsylvania’s hospitals and health systems for their partnership in facilitating warm hand-off programs.

Major General Anthony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s Adjutant General, also discussed the toll that opioid misuse has taken on the military community in the commonwealth. Representatives from the southcentral region’s Veterans Affairs hospitals participated in the conference, sharing their unique experiences treating overdoses in their facilities.

Dr. Erik Kochert, medical director, UPMC Pinnacle Harrisburg Hospital's Emergency Department, underscored the importance of hospitals adopting warm hand-off as a formal process for transitioning care for an overdose patient. Kochert noted that patients that just suffered an overdose require extra care and attention.

The summit also featured breakout sessions that included interactive problem-solving to address some of the most pressing barriers to warm hand-off. These discussions—and the resulting recommendations—will be considered by the Wolf Administration as it works to find new ways to address opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania.

During the coming weeks, subsequent summits will be held across Pennsylvania and will feature collaborative discussions, and examples of hospital best practices for warm hand-off:

HAP and the Pennsylvania hospital community are committed to serving as key partners in the administration’s work to stem the opioid crisis. Hospitals are leading programs including warm hand-off, prescription guidelines, drug takeback facilities, and a variety of unique hospital and system initiatives, in efforts to treat overdose patients and prevent future substance misuse.

For more information about the hospital community’s work to address the opioid crisis, contact Michael Consuelos, M.D., HAP’s senior vice president clinical integration. For more information about HAP’s advocacy work on this issue, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Stephanie Watkins, HAPs vice president, state legislative advocacy.

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