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State official urges end to overdoses with local center

A state official commended the local CleanSlate Friday for its work toward ending overdoses in the region.

CleanSlate is one of the state’s centers of excellence dealing with people affected by opioid and alcohol addiction.

“I’ve been to visit a lot of our centers of excellence,” Teresa Miller, secretary of the state’s Department of Human Services. “The Wolf administration has been doing a lot of events over the course of the week to highlight the work we’re doing and to do more work.”

Miller detailed that her department has 45 centers of excellence that are focused on integrating physical and behavioral health and primary care that keeps people engaged in treatment longer and sets a strong foundation for recovery.

“Really treating the whole person and I think CleanSlate is a good example,” she said.

She said she feels the state is doing a better job than before in terms of getting people into treatment and keeping them in treatments long.

“So we’re really pleased with the outcomes and this was just a great discussion to hear what they’re doing here and to hear about the outreach they’re doing to other folks in the community, whether it’s the police or the legal system to make sure people understand the nature of this disease and how best we can help people,” she added.

She noted that there has been a change in the last three years in the way law enforcement is approaching the issue.

“They’re now seeing police bringing people in off the streets to say this person needs help where before that person would have gone to jail. So I think the focus on this issue and the work that the COE’s are doing to educate the other professions is how we need to be helping people has been working and that’s a great thing,” Miller said.

During her visit, State Sen. Gene Yaw, R-Loyalsock Township, along with others participated in a discussion of the opioid crisis.

Yaw emphasized the need to educate people that help is available.

In answer to Miller’s question about how the state could support the work of the centers, Kara Capozzi, center of excellence program manager, said she found that the “warm hand-off” from emergency rooms in the state, envisioned by Dr. Rachel Levine, the state’s secretary of health, could use refining.

“In theory that’s wonderful,” Capozzi said. “Research shows that people who overdose and are give an appointment and a short-term prescription of … until they get to the MAT (medication assisted treatment) clinic are more likely to show up, to be successful, to have a lower rate of overdose.”

She said one problem is that the hospitals don’t want the liability of giving the person the prescription or of turning into a facility where patients come in for prescriptions and never show up for appointments, or having to track patients to see if they have obtained several prescriptions over a short period of time.

“This a challenge I run into,” she said.

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