Wolf Administration Holds Final Regional Summit on Warm Hand-Offs for Opioid Overdose Survivors

April 13, 2018

Harrisburg, PA – Wolf Administration officials recently concluded a series of regional summits to address warm hand-offs for opioid overdose survivors. The summits brought together stakeholders from state and local governments, the drug and alcohol treatment landscape, and health systems to address best practices and challenges in providing a warm hand-off to patients treated for an opioid overdose in order to strengthen warm hand-off programs around the commonwealth. Summits took place at locations across the state through April.

“The opioid crisis in Pennsylvania needs to be attacked from all angles,” Governor Tom Wolf said. “And we know that we can’t help those suffering from opioid use disorder without a chance to get them into treatment after surviving an overdose. The warm hand-offs are that link between overdose and treatment, and I am pleased that these summits are getting that message out across the state.”

Pennsylvania Department of Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith, and Major General Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s Adjutant General and head of the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, led the summits and were joined by stakeholders in treatment, health care, and local government.

“The time after an overdose is a critical moment for someone with an opioid use disorder. With the expanded availability and use of naloxone, we are able to rescue people who are overdosing, but a direct referral to treatment and support in transitioning to that treatment is vital,” said Secretary Levine. “To save even more lives, we need strong partnerships. Those partners include our county drug and alcohol authorities, drug and alcohol treatment providers, Centers of Excellence, and the other stakeholders represented here today.”

In February 2017, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Department of Health, and Pennsylvania chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians released a clinical pathway designed to create an easy transition from care for an opioid overdose to treatment for an opioid use disorder. County drug and alcohol authorities are now required to establish a warm hand-off policy as part of the 2015-2020 grant agreement between DDAP and the Single County Authorities (SCAs).

“Surviving an overdose is a critical moment that we must leverage to assist in getting the survivor the help they need to pursue a successful recovery,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general and head of the PA Department of Military and Veterans Affairs. “In order to succeed, we need to collectively roll up our sleeves and get these survivors into a treatment program that will turn their lives around and put them on a path to recovery.”

Representatives from the departments of Aging, Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, Human Services, Insurance, and Military and Veterans Affairs and the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency participated in and oversaw the Wilkes-Barre summit, which was the final of six planned in conjunction with the Hospital & Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Medical Society.

“We are all here with the goal of providing better care to the people we serve, but do not lose sight of this goal after you leave here today,” said Secretary Smith. “Fighting this crisis requires coordination at all levels. Take what you learn and the relationships you build and use them to help the patients you care for.”

For more information about warm hand-off and the clinical pathway, visit http://www.ddap.pa.gov/Pages/Warm-Hand-Off.aspx.

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