HERSHEY, Pa. — Penn State Health has joined with other health care providers across south central Pennsylvania to present a united front in the war against opioid and heroin abuse.
The South Central PA Opioid Awareness Coalition includes health systems, hospitals, medical and behavioral health providers, pharmacists and health care professional associations and organizations. Membership in the collaborative spans Adams, Cumberland, Dauphin, Franklin, Lancaster, Lebanon and York counties, as well as The Hospital and Healthsystem Association of Pennsylvania.
The announcement of the coalition coincided with National Prevention Week, held May 14-20, to increase public awareness of, and action around, substance abuse and mental health issues.
The coalition’s awareness campaign will educate members of the public on new opioid prescription protocols that are being enacted across the region. As part of these changes, many providers are now asking patients to sign a controlled substance agreement and to undergo drug screenings to help keep the community safe. The ultimate goal is to prevent prescribed opioid medications from being abused by patients or making it into the hands of those who were not the intended recipients.
The coalition is urging members of the community to lock up prescription medications and to let their doctor or pharmacist know if there are any concerns or problems with misuse of the medication. In addition, the coalition is raising awareness of non-opioid alternatives for treating chronic pain.
The coalition plans to soon unveil a website, which will include resources and information for community members.