Gov. Wolf on Visit to Opioid Command Center: “This work is making a profound difference”

June 03, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today made a surprise visit to the Opioid Command Center at the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency to check in on progress and thank the many commonwealth employees who have been staffing this important work group for the past 17 months.

View a photo from Governor Wolf’s surprise visit here.

“Our opioid command center brings state agencies together to comprehensively fight the opioid epidemic,” Gov. Wolf said. “I’m thankful for the employees dedicated to this issue for their commitment to saving Pennsylvanians’ lives. This work is making a profound difference in this ongoing battle.

“In addition to their daily commonwealth duties, these staff from 16 state agencies have committed to coming together every Monday to focus attention on the opioid crisis, bringing their individual expertise and sharing their ideas and questions with like-minded co-workers. And the work doesn’t stop with these weekly meetings. Members of the Department of Health have moved operations to PEMA to work fulltime on the Command Center operations, serving as liaisons with all involved agencies and stakeholders to monitor and spur progress throughout each week.

“Without this dedicated and passionate group of individuals and their supportive agencies, we would likely not see the progress we are seeing in battling this epidemic. They are all doing incredibly important work and I am very grateful for their ongoing efforts.”

The Opioid Command Center is staffed by personnel from 16 state agencies, spearheaded by the departments of Health and Drug and Alcohol Programs. Since January 2018, when Gov. Wolf signed the first opioid disaster declaration, the command center has met to discuss data on the opioid crisis, to develop initiatives to increase prevention, rescue and treatment planning and programs, and to hear from third-party organizations that present their successful programs for fighting the epidemic.

At today’s command center meeting, Penn State University representatives Derek Kreager and Gary Zajac discussed recovery and treatment for former inmates with an elevated risk of Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) and presented the university’s Certified Recovery Specialist (CRS) program; and Angel Fiore-Torres from RASE Project, discussed how this Central Pennsylvania agency supplies advocacy services for individuals in or seeking recovery from the disease of addiction. RASE was designed to provide a voice and body for the anonymous recovering population and helps those struggling with OUD acquire transitional housing, group classes, and other services. It has grown since its inception in 2002 to serve multiple counties in central Pennsylvania.

There is a proposed partnership/pilot program between PADOC, PSU and RASE to connect CRS to prisoners with opioid use disorder to prepare them for reentry, provide continuity of care and educate their families and friends.

Learn more about how the Wolf Administration is battling the opioid crisis.

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