HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors announced this week that it has scheduled three additional hearings to discuss heroin and opioid treatment and recovery efforts. The announcement came at its June 15th Board meeting in Harrisburg.
The public hearings will take place on July 21st in Latrobe, July 29th in Scranton and August 18th in York. Each hearing has been scheduled to run from 10AM to 1PM.
The Center Board of Directors, consisting of members of the Senate, House of Representatives, Governor appointees and academia, were joined by legislators from across the state last summer at four public hearings to examine the heroin epidemic.
Legislative action was urged by those who testified, including Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane and Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs Gary Tennis.
Three primary themes repeatedly mentioned during the hearings included: educating individuals to the dangers of opioid abuse; increasing the accessibility and availability for those seeking treatment; and providing law enforcement with the tools to help eradicate heroin from our communities.
In September 2014, the Center issued a final report with specific legislative recommendations regarding the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and the use of Naloxone, along with nineteen programming actions for consideration. Legislation addressing the recommendations was passed into law by November 2014.
“This epidemic affects individuals of every age, gender, race, and background,” said Senator Gene Yaw, Center board chairman. “The increased use of heroin, which often has roots in the abuse of prescription painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin, has catapulted Pennsylvania to seventh in the nation for drug-related overdose deaths in the latest federal statistics.”
In the coming months, the Center Board aims to discuss treatment and recovery options, including the use of naloxone, an antidote to a heroin overdose, by local law enforcement agencies.
Barry Denk, Center director, said: “The Board’s actions reinforce the Center’s commitment to addressing critical and timely issues affecting Pennsylvania. Through this next round of hearings, we expect to learn more about effective treatment methods and the critical support services for individuals in recovery, and their families.”
Barry Denk, Director
Center for Rural Pennsylvania