Task force reveals three-year battle plan to end overdoses in Pike

Detailed schedule includes increased accessibility to methadone treatment, a new drug court, and sustained follow-up of overdose cases

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  • Jamie Drake, executive director of Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • Kerry Walsh, the new Pike County Sheriff (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • The Pike County Opiate Task Force in discussion (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

  • The Pike County Training Center at 135 Pike County Blvd., Hawley (Photo by Frances Ruth Harris)

By Frances Ruth Harris

— A detailed schedule has been set to achieve one ultimate, and cherished, goal: ending opioid overdoses in Pike County.

The plan lays out objectives both innovative and tried-and-true, like improving coordination between law enforcement and public health officials, setting up a drug court that takes into account the special nature of crimes related to addiction, and sustained follow-up of people after their recovery from an overdose. And because beating an opioid addiction is notoriously difficult, a main goal is to insure that all Pike residents are informed about the signs of a substance use disorder, and treatment options available in the community.

Jamie Drake, executive director of Carbon-Monroe-Pike Drug and Alcohol Commission, led the Pike County Opiate Task Force in discussion Jan. 18 at the Pike County Training Center in Lords Valley. Drake said the county should apply the concept of "Plan-Do-Study-Act" to their work ahead.

The approximately 30 attendees included the Pike County commissioners; Pike County's new sheriff, Kerry Welsh; first responders; Hope4Pike; and drug and alcohol counselors from Pike, Carbon and Monroe counties.

The strategic plan was developed in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh Technical Assistance Center. Its vision statement says it all: "Working together to end overdoses in Pike County."

The group went over the goals to establish committees to address them, including: Awareness/Prevention, Stigma, Public Safety, and the Continuum of Care.

The group will meet monthly on the first Tuesday of each month at 10 a.m. at the Pike County Training Center, 135 Pike County Blvd., Hawley. The group will work on action items that can be achieved in small increments, working toward achieving the larger goals. Anyone interested in participating in the group is welcome.

Governor Tom Wolf's recent disaster declaration was available as a handout. Wolf on Jan. 10 declared the state's opioid addiction epidemic a public health emergency and ordered a command center set up to treat the crisis like it would a natural disaster.

The declaration: enhances coordination and data collection to bolster state and local responses; asks for improving tools for families, first responders and others to save lives; and speeds up and expands access to treatment.

Governor Wolf wrote a letter to President Trump asking for money to fund programs in Pennsylvania. To date, the governor has not received a response from the President.

Three-year strategic planGoal 1Ensure that all residents of Pike County are all-informed on signs of a substance use disorder, treatment options and recovery programs available in the community.

Strategy: Launch a community awareness campaign to increase awareness for all individuals in Pike County.

By Aug. 2918, implement a multi-platform (ex: digital and print media, social media, billboard) messaging campaign throughout Pike County.

By Feb. 2019, facilitate engagement of interactive educational tools about overdose, signs of substance use disorder, treatment and recovery, and develop or modify new materials when needed.

By Oct. 2020, all individuals with a substance use disorder will be engaged in treatment and will be educated about medicated assisted treatment options.

Goal 2Eliminate stigma in Pike County.

Strategy: Implement a stigma reduction program aimed at assessing and eliminating stigma surrounding overdose in Pike County.

By Aug. 2020, complete the substance abouse and mental health administration modified stigma reduction initiatives for all relevant audiences, targeting community members, healthcare professionals, law enforcement professionals and family and friends.

Goal 3Ensure a continuum of care is available from early intervention through sustained recovery for all persons effected by Opioid use disorder in Pike County.

Strategy: Increase access to and engagement of services throughout the continuum of care, including prevention programs, appropriate treatment at all levels of care and maintain sustainability of recovery resources.

By Nov. 2020, all individuals present at the emergency department will be engaged with a warm hand-off and will receive a connection to treatment.

By Jan. 2021, an overdose follow-up procedure will be established and utilized by local law enforcement, first responders, and medicated assisted treatment providers to connect all overdose survivors to treatment.

By Nov. 2020, increase the number of medicated assisted treatment options, including buprenorphine waivers, and accessibility to naltrexone and methadone programs.

By Nov. 2019, Pike County will have sufficient capacity so that every individual, both in rural and urban areas, who needs substance use disorder treatment will have access to appropriate levels of care and any resources required to ensure sustained engagement.

By Dec. 2020, all individuals engaged in post-treatment care will receive support and guidance for non-treatment needs (i.e., housing support, job training, etc.) and consistent monitoring for risk of overdose to support long term recovery.

By June 2020, develop, implement and sustain a drug court program for Pike County.

By Sept. 2019, all individuals with substance use disorder diagnosis or drug related offense in jail will be connected to treatment, re-entry, and recovery services via a warm hand off.

Goal 4Ensure all persons at high risk of overdose have access to naloxone, including trainings on administration and accompanied rescue/medical techniques (ex: rescue breathing).

Strategy: Increase access to and utilization of naloxone and educational trainings for all individuals in Pike County.

By Jan. 2019, develop and implement a naloxone education campaign with trainings, digital resources, and information on where to obtain naloxone, the standing order and Acrt 139, and what to do in the case of overdose. Trainings should be easily accessible for the public (ex: hosted at schools, churches, community centers, etc.).

By June 2018, complete survey of county pharmacies regarding naloxone practices and policies, acceptance and understand Act 139 and the standing order, and overall consumer experience.

By Dec. 2019, ensure all pharmacies are carrying and co-prescribing naloxone.

By Aug. 2020, all of the following groups will be provided naloxone: persons awaiting treatment, persons leaving treatment, persons leaving hospital after warm hand-off, person leaving jail/prison who identify as needing naloxone.

Goal 5Develop and utilize a harm reduction program for Pike County.

Goal 6Increase coordination between law enforcement and public health entities in Pike County.

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