Erie County leaders hopeful Wolf's declaration will curb local crisis
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has declared the heroin and opioid epidemic a statewide disaster emergency, to enhance state response, increase access to treatment and to save lives.
"To further combat this crisis, today I am issuing a state-wide disaster declaration for the heroin and opioid epidemic," said Governor Tom Wolf Wednesday afternoon.
Governor Wolf making the declaration with 13 key initiatives to help combat the crisis.
"While the scope of this declaration is broad, and while it affects programs and entities across the Commonwealth, it is imperative that we use every tool to try and contain and eradicate this public health crisis," said Gov. Wolf.
Gaudenzia Community Affairs Manager Jason Kisielewski said this is a huge milestone, especially for treatment centers.
"A lot of the focus will be on expanding coordination, providing more tools and resources to family members, to individuals, to first responders, and to allow even more access to treatment," explained Kisielewski.
One of the ways treatment will become more accessible is by allowing nurses and nurse practitioners to get people into treatment programs, which is where Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper believes the priority should be.
"One of the main things is if we can get people into treatment, hopefully we can help them, and obviously get them onto the path of living a more healthy life," said Dahlkemper.
Additional financial resources, and equipping more people with narloxone is also a part of this declaration. Dahlkemper said this is highly needed as the numbers of drug overdoses continue to rise.
Erie County Coroner Lyell Cook confirming 124 deaths in 2017, up from 95 in 20-6. But that number may still rise as more toxicology reports come in.
Cook said drugs come and go, but never has one made such an impact in our community.
"Unfortunately, this particular time we haven't peaked yet, and I hope this year is the year that we do," said Cook.
Both Dahlkemper and Kisielewski are looking forward to discussing their next plans of action for Erie County.
"This is an issue that is not going to be solved in a year, it's not going to be solved in a couple years. This is a long term look at how we solve a very huge health crisis in our community," said Dahlkemper.