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Warm Hand-Offs

Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs: Wolf administration holds regional summit on warm hand-offs for opioid overdose survivors.

Text of March 20 press release.

Summits bring together stakeholders to strengthen direct pathway to treatment for opioid overdose survivors.

Ivyland, PA – As Governor Tom Wolf today signed the sixth renewal of his opioid disaster declaration, officials from his administration kicked off a series of regional summits to address warm hand-offs for opioid overdose survivors. The event was held at Spring Hill – The Manor in Ivyland, Bucks County.

The summits bring together stakeholders from state and local governments, the drug and alcohol treatment landscape, and health systems to address best practices and implementation roadblocks in providing a warm hand-off to patients treated for an opioid overdose. Eight summits will take place at locations across the state during March and April.

“Over the past year thousands of lives have been saved through warm hand-off programs,” said Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs Secretary Jennifer Smith. “We know this is a key component in strengthening the drug and alcohol landscape throughout Pennsylvania. These summits are designed to fully equip counties who may be struggling to implement their programs with the tools and knowledge to have successful warm hand-off programs. In turn, helping to save our neighbors and loved ones.”

Today, warm hand-off programs at various levels of implementation exist around the commonwealth. Since January 2017, more than 5,000 individuals have been directly referred to treatment as part of the warm hand-off concept. Counties with successful implementations are seeing a success rate of 90 percent of overdose survivors directly admitted into drug and alcohol treatment following an overdose.

“Once we revive someone who has overdosed with naloxone, it is essential that we get those people into treatment,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “Warm handoff programs allow our medical providers and our drug treatment providers to ensure that someone with the disease of addiction gets the help they need. Treatment works and recovery is possible for those battling substance use disorder.”

In February 2017, the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), Department of Health, and Pennsylvania chapter of the College of Emergency Physicians released a clinical pathway designed to create an easy transition from care for an opioid overdose to treatment for an opioid use disorder. As part of an update in the 2015–2020 grant agreement between DDAP and local Single County Authorities (SCA), SCAs are now required to establish a warm hand-off policy locally.

Representatives from the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Health, Human Services, and Insurance will participate in each of the eight summits:

  • Philadelphia (March 21)
  • Johnstown (March 27)
  • Pittsburgh (March 28)
  • York (April 4)
  • Wilkes-Barre (April 11)
  • Williamsport (April 16)
  • Erie (April 17)

For more information about the warm hand-off summits and the clinical pathway, visit ddap.pa.gov

Media contact: Rachel Kostelac, 717.547.3314

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Further questions may be directed to Jack Phillips