Pennsylvania Health Department Launches New Virtual Trainings in Bid to Curb Overdose Crisis

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HARRISBURG, PA — In a concerted effort to combat the persistent drug overdose crisis, the Pennsylvania Department of Health has unveiled an array of free virtual training programs. Aimed at health care providers and public safety professionals, these courses offer critical knowledge on substance use disorders and practical strategies for prevention.

Acting Secretary of Health, Dr. Debra Bogen, underscored the importance of these trainings in the state’s ongoing battle against drug overdoses. “The Shapiro Administration is committed to continually developing new tools to help health care providers and public safety professionals address substance use disorder,” she said. “These educational offerings provide health care and public safety professionals with practical guidance and information to ensure their work is evidence-based and addresses stigma as a barrier to treatment and recovery.”

The suite of programs is tailored to cater to various audiences and covers a broad range of topics. For instance, the Pennsylvania Substance Use Navigation (PA-SUN) program aims to enhance the knowledge of emergency department staff on harm reduction, buprenorphine initiation, linkage to care, and stigma. Another module zeroes in on strategies to improve maternal and infant health related to opioid use, specifically targeting health care providers who treat pregnant and postpartum women.

The role of care teams in providing evidence-based care to people living with opioid use disorder is another crucial topic covered in the training. There’s also a focus on evidence-based opioid prescribing in dentistry, a relevant issue given the profession’s frequent prescription of pain medication.

The final module offers Addiction and Connection to Treatment (ACT) resources for child welfare professionals, a group often at the frontline in dealing with the fallout from substance misuse in families.

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The Shapiro Administration is keen on emphasizing a public health approach to engage individuals with substance use disorder, prevent overdose, reduce infectious disease transmission, and provide accessible treatment to Pennsylvanians.

These educational offerings are supported by funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In September 2023, the Department of Health was awarded an additional $26.5 million to further support and enhance its response to the overdose epidemic through 2028.

The importance of these training programs cannot be overstated. They not only equip health care providers and public safety professionals with up-to-date knowledge and skills but also confront the pervasive stigma around substance use disorder. By challenging misconceptions and stereotypes, these trainings could help build a more supportive environment for those battling addiction, fostering their chances of successful recovery.

The Department of Health’s website offers these trainings, resources, and more for healthcare providers and public safety professionals.

The launch of these virtual training programs marks a significant step forward in Pennsylvania’s ongoing efforts to curb the overdose crisis. By offering practical guidance and resources, the state is empowering those on the front lines of this battle, ultimately aiming to save lives and foster healthier communities across Pennsylvania.

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