Drug treatment specialists, healthcare providers discuss difficulties in Clinton, Lycoming counties – Lock Haven Express

Feb 7, 2022
MARCO VERCH PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHERS VIA CREATIVE COMMONS A virtual round table, held by the Department of Drug and Alcohol, discussed the challenges Clinton and Lycoming counties face with addiction populations.
Drug treatment specialists, health care providers and others dealing with addiction populations discussed some of the challenges in reaching out to those in need of help.
The virtual roundtable talk, coordinated by state Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jen Smith, covered how to best manage the addiction crisis moving forward and related issues.
West Branch Drug & Alcohol Abuse Commission Executive Director Shea Madden noted the significant decrease of 50 percent in overdose deaths in Lycoming in the past year.
All counties across the state, she added, face the challenge of battling the problem.
Lycoming County President Judge Nancy Butts, a treatment court judge, said too many people in need of help for addictions are not receiving it.
“When I deal with defendants not in treatment, I want to know why they aren’t in treatment. Any support you can give the SCA (the West Branch Drug and Alcohol Commission) is supporting us,” she told Smith.
Jeff Thomas, CEO, White Deer Run Treatment Network, said COVID-19 has posed great challenges.
“It changed everything,” he said.
Staff shortages prompted the treatment center to increase wages to attract new employees. Some existing employees resigned because of vaccination requirements.
Overall, he said providing needed services for those in treatment has become a “balancing act.”
“We tend to go from one crisis to another,” he said. “It’s been a challenge keeping people in treatment. More people than ever are abandoning treatment. Acuity is much greater than it was before.”
Dr. Michael Gerst, chief medical officer of emergency services, UPMC North Central Region, said increasing numbers of people are coming to the emergency room for drug overdoses
“We are doing our very best,” he said. “The reality is, we are not capturing all of them.”
While the emergency department is a safety net for many, there is a great need to address addictions before they become crisis situations.
“We got to do things differently,” he said.
Ed Hosler, deputy chief, Clinton County Probation Services, said his office has developed a hybrid approach to working with probationers with addiction problems including curbside visits to residences.
Probation officers, he noted, now carry Narcan, used to treat narcotic overdoses in emergencies.
Dr. Todd Fausnaught, regional medical director for CleanSlate Centers, noted that more health care providers are being hired to treat the increasing numbers of patients for the outpatient addiction treatment sites across the state.
The roundtable is part of DDAP’s Substance Use Disorder (SUD) Listening Tour designed to meet with local leaders, treatment providers, members of the recovery community, and other stakeholders to discuss problems at the local level.
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