Harrisburg, PA – Pennsylvania has been selected as the first state to participate in a groundbreaking initiative from Bloomberg Philanthropies designed to strengthen state and local opioid prevention and treatment efforts. Governor Tom Wolf accepted a $10 million grant this morning from Michael Bloomberg—founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and World Health Organization (WHO) Global Ambassador for Noncommunicable Diseases—at the inaugural Bloomberg American Health Summit in Washington, D.C. Governor Wolf was a featured speaker at the event, describing his administration’s approach to reduce the number of Pennsylvanians addicted to opioids.
“My administration has made fighting the opioid epidemic one of its top priorities, and this collaboration with Michael Bloomberg and Bloomberg Philanthropies will allow us to take an in-depth look at the areas where we can supplement our programs to successfully assist more Pennsylvanians,” said Gov. Wolf. “I want to see an end to opioid use disorder in Pennsylvania, and this is a step in the right direction.”
Pennsylvania was selected as the first state for this partnership due to the toll the epidemic has taken and the work it has already done to fight the opioid crisis.
Following the summit, Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are in Philadelphia to visit the Bridge Way School and Thomas Jefferson University Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research to see the unique opioid use disorder treatment programs implemented by these facilities.
“Pennsylvania has been one of the states hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, but Governor Wolf has been a real leader on the issue,” said Michael Bloomberg. “We’ll work to help him tackle opioids from every angle – and save more lives around the state. Together, we’ll identify the best ways to curb this critical public health crisis and create a blueprint for change across America.”
Bloomberg Philanthropies will work with the Wolf Administration over a three-year period. Targeted funding areas will include staffing, technical assistance, and data collection.
Since Governor Wolf first signed a heroin and opioid disaster declaration in January, 16 state agencies have been charged with fighting the opioid epidemic and have made significant progress to help individuals and families dealing with this crisis. Recent accomplishments include waiving birth certificate fees for individuals seeking treatment, using federal Medicaid funding in treatment facilities to provide medically necessary treatment to more than 125,000 individuals, and providing career services to people who have been impacted by the opioid epidemic and plan to return to work.
While in Philadelphia, Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are speaking with individuals and families affected by opioid use disorder who are participating in unique, state-supported recovery programs.
Gov. Wolf and Michael Bloomberg are touring the Bridge Way School, the city’s first school for students in recovery, where they will meet with students and staff to learn about the unique program. At the school, high school students in recovery develop and nurture the tools and strategies to maintain sobriety while holding themselves and their classmates accountable as members of a sober learning community.
Later they are meeting with participants in the Thomas Jefferson University Maternal Addiction Treatment Education and Research (MATER) Program and talking with treatment experts and Dr. Stephen K. Klasko, president and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health, about treatment for opioid use. Mothers at the Thomas Jefferson University MATER Program participate in a trauma-informed, mindfulness-based parenting intervention while also in medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder. Researchers at MATER are also studying the connections between behavior and pharmacological interventions with reductions in cigarette smoking, benzodiazepine abuse and opioid use disorder. MATER is a designated Pennsylvania Center of Excellence for the treatment of substance use disorder.
“When it comes to making decisions about complex societal issues like the opioid epidemic, knowledge is power,” said Gov. Wolf. “Bloomberg Philanthropies’ support of data-driven research and evaluation will help my administration determine areas of strength and improvement in our initiatives, which will ultimately lead to more lives saved.”