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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 23, 2014

Center for Rural Pennsylvania Releases Report on Growing Heroin Epidemic

HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania today released a report summarizing the findings of four statewide hearings held to examine the growing numbers of heroin and opioid related deaths and arrests across Pennsylvania.  Two of the findings highlighted support for legislation currently under consideration in the General Assembly: one bill that would provide immunity to an individual who contacts authorities in the event of a drug overdose and a second that would expand the types of drugs monitored under the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.

The report lists additional items for consideration that were addressed by the more than 50 presenters, who included law enforcement officials, health care providers and family members who lost loved ones to heroin and other opioids. These items focused on the areas of education and prevention, law enforcement, and treatment.

"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.

"Right now we have a public health crisis facing rural Pennsylvania," Senator Yaw said. "Although our focus was specifically on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, we know addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries.  It is, across the board, a statewide and national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.  Simply locking people behind bars is not the answer.  We, as a state, need to do more."

Over a two-month period, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board of Directors, consisting of members of the House of Representatives, Senate, Governor appointees and academia, joined legislators from across the state for the hearings. The hearing sites were selected to achieve geographic representation and perspectives reflecting the diversity of Pennsylvania.

Legislative action was urged by those who testified.  Legislation mentioned included Senate Bill 1164, which would provide immunity to an individual who contacted authorities in the event of a drug overdose.  To further strengthen this proposal, an amendment was offered to expand the accessibility of the opioid antidote drug, naloxone also known by the trade name Narcan. With this amendment, naloxone would be available to first responders such as law enforcement or fire department personnel.  Health care professionals would also be able to provide a prescription for naloxone to persons at-risk of an overdose, family members, or an individual who may be in the position to assist a person who is suffering an overdose.

The hearings also identified the need to improve the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (Senate Bill 1180/House Bill 1694) to expand the types of drugs monitored under the existing system. Currently, data are collected for Level II controlled substances. 

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. 

The report is available on the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's website at www.rural.palegislature.us, as well as links to the testimony from the public hearings.

# # #

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. It was created in 1987 under Act 16, the Rural Revitalization Act, to promote and sustain the vitality of Pennsylvania's rural and small communities.


September 17, 2014

Media Advisory
Contact: Barry Denk, Director
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555
info@rural.palegislature.us

Center for Rural Pennsylvania slated to release report on Pennsylvania's heroin epidemic

HARRISBURG – The Center for Rural Pennsylvania will release its report on the heroin crisis facing Pennsylvania at a press conference on Tuesday, September 23, 2014 in Harrisburg.

The report reflects the issues addressed, and the recommendations made, by more than 50 presenters at four statewide hearings held during the summer months and totaling over 15 hours of testimony.  Those testifying included educators, students, elected officials, law enforcement officials, medical and health care professionals, treatment providers, and family members who have lost loved ones.

In addition to identifying specific legislative actions recommended by those testifying, the report identifies nearly 20 issues requiring additional evaluation, research and action.

State Senator Gene Yaw, who represents Bradford, Lycoming, Sullivan, Susquehanna and Union counties, serves as the Center's Chairman.  "Heroin and opioid abuse has no geographical boundaries," Yaw said.  "This is an epidemic affecting individuals of every age, gender, race, and background across the state."

WHO: Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board Members, Senate Members, House Members

WHEN: Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 11AM

WHERE: Capitol Media Center, Room 1, East Wing of the State Capitol


August 19, 2014 Public Hearing on Heroin Crisis Facing Pennsylvania, Clarion, PA

Center Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw and Board Member Dr. Karen Whitney, Clarion University president, welcomed presenters and attendees to the last of four public hearings on the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, August 19. Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane, state and local officials, health care and treatment professionals, and law enforcement presented testimony at the hearing and provided information and insights on the growing heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.

Center Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw (center) and board members welcome presenters and guests to the hearing. Pictured left to right: Dr. Nancy Falvo; Representative Garth Everett; Center Director Barry Denk; Senator Yaw; Senator John Wozniak; Dr. Karen Whitney; Representative Rick Mirabito; Dr. Ted Alter; and Dr. Stephan Goetz.


Representative Lee James, Representative Donna Oberlander, Senator Scott Hutchinson, Dr. Nancy Falvo, Representative Garth Everett; Barry Denk; Senator Gene Yaw; Senator John Wozniak; Dr. Karen Whitney; Representative Rick Mirabito; Dr. Ted Alter; and Dr. Stephan Goetz.


Left to right: Sheriff Robert Fyock, president of the Pennsylvania Sheriff's Association, and Clarion County District Attorney Mark Aaron present their testimony.

Alice Bell, Overdose Prevention Project coordinator, Prevention Point Pittsburgh.


Dr. Jan Pringle, project director, Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment, University of Pittsburgh.

Holly Livingston, community outreach coordinator, Gateway Rehab, and Dr. James Schuster, chief medical officer, Community Care Behavioral Health Organization.


Mike Krafick, certified recovery specialist and Kami Anderson, executive director, Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Dave Cippel, Klingensmith's Drug Stores, Inc., and president, Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association.


Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis.

 


Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.


Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.

Scroll down the page for more information on the previous hearings.

 


 

August 14, 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY
Contact:  Barry Denk, Director
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555
info@rural.palegislature.us

Heroin:  Combating this Growing Epidemic in Rural Pennsylvania

What:  The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has announced the fourth and final public hearing to be held across Pennsylvania to solicit testimony on the increased use of heroin and other opioids.  Information from the hearing can be used to develop legislative policies that may help to curb the use of these dangerous narcotics impacting rural Pennsylvania, according to state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's Board of Directors.  The hearing is being co-hosted by Clarion University President Dr. Karen Whitney, Center board member. Click here for a Recap of the previous hearings.

Who: Click here for the Agenda – (Clarion County)

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board: 
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman
Senator John Wozniak, Vice Chairman
Representative Garth D. Everett, Treasurer
Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University, Secretary
Representative Rick Mirabito
Dr. Livingston Alexander, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Theodore R. Alter, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen M. Brame, Governor's Representative
Taylor A. Doebler III, Governor's Representative
Dr. Stephan J. Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
Dr. Karen M. Whitney, Clarion University

When:  Tuesday, August 19, 2014
8:30AM – 1PM

Where: Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Gemmell Student Center (Wilson & Payne Streets)
2nd Floor
840 Wood Street
Clarion, PA  16214-1232
*Campus Map

BACKGROUND:  In Pennsylvania, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has been increasing.  According to a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, there were 45 reported heroin deaths in 2009 and 124 reported heroin deaths by mid-2013.  Although the Center's focus is on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries.  It is, across the board, a national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.

More information is available on The Center for Rural Pennsylvania's website, www.rural.palegislature.us, Facebook or on Senator Yaw's website, www.SenatorGeneYaw.com, on Facebook and @SenatorGeneYaw on Twitter.


 

August 5, 2014 Public Hearing on Heroin Crisis Facing Pennsylvania, Loretto, PA

Center Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw and Vice Chairman Senator John Wozniak welcomed presenters and attendees to the third of four public hearings on the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, August 5. State and local officials as well as educators, health care professionals, law enforcement and public advocates presented testimony at the hearing and provided information and insights on the growing heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.

Pictured left to right: Center Director Barry Denk; Board Secretary Dr. Nancy Falvo; Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw; Board Vice Chairman Senator John Wozniak; Board Member Representative Rick Mirabito; Representative Tommy Sankey; and Representative Frank Burns.


St. Francis University Provost Dr. Wayne Powel welcomed the Center board, members of the General Assembly and guests to the university.

Left to right: Geoffrey Kolchin, program analyst with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency and Dr. Frank Montecalvo, vice president for Student Development at St. Francis University.


David Ellis, regional director of the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation, Office of the Attorney General.

Dr. Robert Orth, consultant with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.


Lisa Davis, executive director of the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health.

Susan Kelly, facilitator with Grief Recovery After a Substance Passing (GRASP).


Left to right: Dr. Matthew Bouchard, director of Emergency Medicine with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Altoona and Bedford; Scott Moyer, program director at Discovery House; and Judy Rosser, executive director of Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships.

Left to right: Gary Martin, president of Cambria County Crime Stoppers, and Kevin Price, detective, Cambria County Office of the District Attorney.


Left to right: Representative Bryan Barbin; Barry Denk; Dr. Nancy Falvo; Senator Gene Yaw; Senator John Wozniak; and Representative Rick Mirabito.

Scroll down the page for more information on the upcoming hearing in Clarion.

 


 

July 30, 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555
info@rural.palegislature.us

Heroin: Combating this Growing Epidemic in Rural Pennsylvania

What: The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has announced the third of four public hearings to be held across Pennsylvania to solicit testimony on the increased use of heroin and other opioids. Information from the hearings can be used to develop legislative policies that may help to curb the use of these dangerous narcotics impacting rural Pennsylvania, according to state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's Board of Directors. Click here for a Preview of the upcoming hearing, co-hosted by Senator John Wozniak (D-35), Center Board Vice Chairman.

Who: Click here for the Agenda - (Cambria County)

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board:
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman
Senator John Wozniak, Vice Chairman
Representative Garth D. Everett, Treasurer
Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University, Secretary
Representative Rick Mirabito
Dr. Livingston Alexander, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Theodore R. Alter, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen M. Brame, Governor's Representative
Taylor A. Doebler III, Governor's Representative
Dr. Stephan J. Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
Dr. Karen M. Whitney, Clarion University

When: Tuesday, August 5, 2014
9 AM - 12:30 PM

Where: Saint Francis University
DiSepio Institute for Rural Health & Wellness
108 Franciscan Way
Loretto, PA 15940
* Campus Map

BACKGROUND: In Pennsylvania, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has been increasing. According to a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, there were 45 reported heroin deaths in 2009 and 124 reported heroin deaths by mid-2013. Although the Center's focus is on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries. It is, across the board, a national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.

More information is available on The Center for Rural Pennsylvania's website, www.rural.palegislature.us, Facebook or on Senator Yaw's website, www.SenatorGeneYaw.com, on Facebook and @SenatorGeneYaw on Twitter.


July 22, 2014 Public Hearing on Heroin Crisis Facing Pennsylvania, Reading, PA

Center Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw and Vice Chairman Senator John Wozniak welcomed presenters and attendees to the second of four public hearings on the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania on Tuesday, July 22. Senator Judy Schwank cohosted the hearing. State and local officials as well as educators, health care professionals, business representatives and public advocates presented testimony at the hearing and provided information and insights on the growing heroin epidemic in Pennsylvania.

Pictured left to right: Board Vice Chairman Senator John Wozniak, Board Chairman Senator Gene Yaw, and Senator Judy Schwank welcome presenters and guests to the public hearing.


Left to right: Senator Mike Folmer, Senator John Wozniak, Senator Gene Yaw, Senator Scott Wagner and Center Director Barry Denk.

Left to right: Deborah Beck, president, Drug and Alcohol Service Providers Organization of Pennsylvania, and Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis.


Left to right: George Vogel, executive director, Council on Chemical Abuse; Linda Texter, director, Reading Hospital Drug and Alcohol Center; and Phil Bauer, parent and advocate for prescription drug safety.

Left to right: Dr. Gregory Sorensen, chief medical officer, Reading Health System; Alison Snyder, personnel director, East Penn Manufacturing Co. Inc.; Andrew Potteiger, superintendent, Brandywine Heights Area School District; Sandy Green, mayor, Kutztown Borough; and Christine Gilfillan, associate director, Berks Women in Crisis.


Left to right: Representative Jerry Knowles, Senator Mike Folmer, Senator John Wozniak, Senator Gene Yaw and Senator Judy Schwank.

 


Left to right: Dean Patton, magisterial district judge, Berks County; Scott D. Keller, judge, Court of Common Pleas, Berks County; Christine A. Holman, district attorney, Schuylkill County; Michael J. Gombar, chief county detective, Berks County; and John T. Adams, district attorney, Berks County.

Scroll down the page for more information on the upcoming hearings in Loretto and Clarion.

 


 

July 16, 2014

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555
info@rural.palegislature.us

Heroin:  Combating this Growing Epidemic in Rural Pennsylvania

What: The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has announced the second of four public hearings to be held across Pennsylvania to solicit testimony on the increased use of heroin and other opioids.  Information from the hearings can be used to develop legislative policies that may help to curb the use of these dangerous narcotics impacting rural Pennsylvania, according to state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania's Board of Directors.  Click here for a Preview of the upcoming hearing, co-hosted with State Senator Judy Schwank (D-11).

Who:  Click here for the Agenda -- Reading (Berks County)

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board: 
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman
Senator John Wozniak, Vice Chairman
Representative Garth D. Everett, Treasurer
Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University, Secretary
Representative Rick Mirabito
Dr. Livingston Alexander, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Theodore R. Alter, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen M. Brame, Governor's Representative
Taylor A. Doebler III, Governor's Representative
Dr. Stephan J. Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
Dr. Karen M. Whitney, Clarion University

When: Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Where: Reading Area Community College
Schmidt Training and Technology Center
10 South 2nd Street
Reading, PA  19603
*Campus Map

BACKGROUND: In Pennsylvania, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has been increasing.  According to a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, there were 45 reported heroin deaths in 2009 and 124 reported heroin deaths by mid-2013.  Although the Center's focus is on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries.  It is, across the board, a national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.


July 9, 2014 Public Hearing on Heroin Crisis Facing Pennsylvania, Williamsport, PA

Center board members welcomed presenters and attendees to the first of four public hearings on the heroin crisis in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, July 9. State and local officials as well as educators, health care professionals, business representatives and students presented testimony at the five-hour plus hearing and provided information and insights on the growing heroin epidemic.

Pictured left to right: Dr. Ted Alter, board member; Rep. Fred Keller; Rep. Garth Everett, board treasurer; Sen. Gene Yaw, chairman; and Rep. Rick Mirabito, board member.


Left to right: Bradford Co. District Attorney Dan Barrett; Lycoming Co. President Judge Nancy Butts; and Lycoming Co. District Attorney Eric Linhardt.

Pennsylvania State Police Lt. Robert Mann and Williamsport Police Capt. Michael Orwig present their testimony.


Bradford Co. Prison Warden Don Stewart and Lycoming Co. Prison Warden Kevin DeParlos. — at Williamsport, PA.

Dr. David Talenti of Guthrie Robert Packer Hospital.


Pictured left to right: Dr. John "Jack" Devine of Evangelical Community Hospital; Dr. Rene Rigal of Susquehanna Health Pain Management Center; and Lycoming Co. Coroner Chuck Kiessling.

Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Gary Tennis and George Rutherford, director of operations at White Deer Run.


Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President Gene Barr and Lycoming Co. Chamber of Commerce President Vince Matteo.

Fred Wells Brason, II, founder of Project Lazarus.


Pictured left to right: Donna George, Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education AOD Coordinator; Dr. Tim Susick, associate vice president of California University of Pennsylvania; Natalie Lamoreaux, former SADD secretary, Muncy Area High School; and Crystal Good, former SADD President, Muncy Area High School.


Scroll down the page for more information on the upcoming hearings in Reading, Loretto and Clarion.

 


July 2, 2014

MEDIA ADVISORY
Contact: Barry Denk, Director
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania
(717) 787-9555
info@rural.palegislature.us

Heroin:  Combating this Growing Epidemic in Rural Pennsylvania

What:  The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has announced four public hearings to be held across Pennsylvania to solicit testimony on the increased use of heroin and other opioids.  Information from the hearings will be used to develop legislative policies that may help to curb the use of these dangerous narcotics impacting rural Pennsylvania, according to state Senator Gene Yaw (R-23), Chairman of The Center for Rural Pennsylvania's Board of Directors.  Click here for a 'Preview'.

Who:   Click here for a copy of the Agenda for Hearing 1 – Williamsport

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania Board: 
Senator Gene Yaw, Chairman
Senator John Wozniak, Vice Chairman
Representative Garth D. Everett, Treasurer
Dr. Nancy Falvo, Clarion University, Secretary
Representative Rick Mirabito
Dr. Livingston Alexander, University of Pittsburgh
Dr. Theodore R. Alter, Pennsylvania State University
Stephen M. Brame, Governor's Representative
Taylor A. Doebler III, Governor's Representative
Dr. Stephan J. Goetz, Northeast Regional Center for Rural Development
Dr. Karen M. Whitney, Clarion University

When:  Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Where: Susquehanna Health System
Williamsport Regional Medical Center
Walnut Conference Room
700 High Street, Williamsport, PA  17701

BACKGROUND:  Right now we have a public health crisis facing rural Pennsylvania.  Although the Center's focus is on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries.  It is, across the board, a national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.

In Pennsylvania, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has been increasing.  According to a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, there were 45 reported heroin deaths in 2009 and 124 reported heroin deaths by mid-2013.


The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has scheduled four public hearings to examine and discuss current policies and practices related to heroin and opioid addiction, including prevention, treatment and law enforcement efforts. The hearing dates/locations/times are:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Williamsport Regional Medical Center - Susquehanna Health
Walnut Conference Room, 3rd Floor
700 High St., Williamsport, PA 17701
Opening: 8:30 a.m.
Agenda
Testimony

Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Reading Area Community College
Schmidt Training and Technology Center
10 South Second St., Reading PA 19603
Opening: 8:30 a.m.
Agenda
Testimony

Tuesday, August 5, 2014
Saint Francis University
DiSepio Institute for Rural Health & Wellness
108 Franciscan Way, Loretto, PA
Opening: 9 a.m.
Agenda
Testimony

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Gemmell Student Center (Wilson & Payne Streets)
2nd Floor
840 Wood Street
Clarion, PA 16214
Opening: 8:30 a.m.
Agenda
Testimony

A diverse group of organizations and individuals has been invited to testify at the hearings. Others interested in submitting written comments or testimony should mail or email them to the Center for Rural Pennsylvania, 625 Forster St., Room 902, Harrisburg, PA 17120 or caldarac@rural.palegislature.us, or submit them to Center staff at any of the hearings.


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 28, 2014

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania announces hearings to discuss options to curb surge in heroin use

HARRISBURG – State Senator Gene Yaw, chairman of the Center for Rural Pennsylvania’s Board of Directors, announces three public hearings to be held across Pennsylvania to solicit testimony on the increased use of heroin and other opioids.  Information from the hearings will be used to develop legislative policies that may help to curb the use of these dangerous narcotics impacting rural Pennsylvania.

The first hearing will take place on Wednesday, July 9, from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Walnut Conference Room, Williamsport Regional Medical Center, 700 High Street, Williamsport, and will seek testimony from judicial, law enforcement, healthcare and education professionals.

“Right now we have a public health crisis facing rural Pennsylvania,” Yaw said.  “Although our focus is on heroin use in rural Pennsylvania, we know addiction has no municipal, county, or state boundaries.  It is, across the board, a national epidemic impacting residents of every age, race, gender and socioeconomic background.”

In Pennsylvania, the number of fatal heroin overdoses has been increasing.  According to a 2014 report from the Pennsylvania State Coroners Association, there were 45 reported heroin deaths in 2009 and 124 reported heroin deaths by mid-2013.

“I do not believe that simply locking people behind bars is the answer. We need to do more.  These hearings will identify what we need to be doing as state officials,” Yaw added.  “The primary question to be answered is what can the State Legislature do to help the fight?”

Fred Brason, CEO of Project Lazarus, will offer testimony at the Williamsport hearing on what rural communities and state government can do to respond to substance abuse and drug overdose issues. Project Lazarus is a nonprofit public health organization that was established in 2008 to respond to high drug overdose death rates in Wilkes County, NC.

The remaining two public hearings have been scheduled for Tuesday, July 22 in Berks County and Tuesday, August 19 in Clarion County.

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative research agency of the General Assembly.

###

CONTACT(S):
Christine Caldara Piatos, 717-787-9555
The Center for Rural Pennsylvania

Rita Zielonis, 717-787-3280
Office of Sen. Gene Yaw

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