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Governor Wolf Renews Opioid Disaster Declaration, Signs New Law to Aid in Crisis

June 29, 2018

Governor Wolf has renewed Pennsylvania’s 90-day opioid disaster declaration for a second time. As a result of the renewal, initiatives begun during the past 180 days in order to address the crisis can continue without interruption.

Without renewal, the declaration would have expired on July 4. The Governor first declared the emergency on January 10, 2018, and renewed it for the first time in April. 

Governor Wolf also signed SB 978, sponsored by Senator Lisa Baker (R-Luzerne), into law. This law gives hospice staff the authority to destroy unused drugs following a patient’s death. 

Previously, hospice staff had to return any unused pharmaceuticals to the family, adding another burden to grieving families as they had to seek a way of disposing of the extra medications. Simplifying the disposal process will help keep dangerous drugs out of the hands of anyone who might misuse them.

HAP and the hospital community continue to support the commonwealth’s work to address the opioid crisis. Hospitals play crucial roles in preventing overdoses and treating substance use disorder and continue to work to turn the tide on the epidemic.

Pennsylvania’s hospitals have been, among other things:

  • Collaborating with government, county organizations, and other health care providers to organize warm handoff protocols, to help overdose survivors connect to treatment options
  • Supporting programs to help mothers with substance use disorder and their babies suffering from neonatal abstinence syndrome 
  • Implementing safe opioid prescription guidelines and monitoring patients’ prescription pain medication use via the Pennsylvania Drug Monitoring Database
  • Facilitating education and access to overdose prevention resources

For more information about the opioid disaster declaration and the Pennsylvania hospital response, please contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy, or Scott Bishop, HAP’s senior vice president, legislative advocacy.

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