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Schuylkill opioid task force meets

Published July 29. 2019 12:07PM

An important piece of developing a strategic plan to combat opioid abuse is data — knowing the extent of the problem and what’s being done to combat it. The next step is a big one.

“It’s all about collaboration,” said Rosemarie Lister, director of Community-Based Rural Health for St. Luke’s. “We’re a team that is coming together because of an epidemic, to create communities that value recovery.”

Lister spoke to the Schuylkill County Opioid Task Force during a meeting Friday, held at the Lehigh Valley Health Network School of Nursing in Pottsville. She told the group that the Health Resource Service Administration, through a project with St. Luke’s, has put together a comprehensive needs assessment for the region, including Schuylkill and Carbon counties. Data for the assessment came from more than 10,000 surveys and 11 focus groups across the network’s campuses; county, state and national data were also used in the report.

The opioid task force has developed a three-year strategic plan to support the group’s vision: to work collaboratively across all agencies to reduce overdoses and overdose deaths in Schuylkill County to zero.

In support of the vision, five goals have been identified: education, opportunity for recovery, eliminate barriers to treatment programs, eliminate stigma and coordinate efforts between law enforcement, the legal system and treatment.

One of the strategies identified by the group is to organize family-friendly events and programs, for all ages, which promote health, sober activities and continued recovery. A major event, Schuylkill Recovery Jam, is planned for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 7 at the Schuylkill County Fairgrounds. The Recovery Jam, presented by the Schuylkill County Drug & Alcohol Department, will feature two bands, Broken Spell and Another Side. The event is free and includes games, food and prizes. For more information, call 570-621-2890.

The Opioid Task Force is guided by the Pennsylvania Overdose Reduction technical assistance center, through Mario Pugliese of the University of Pittsburgh school of pharmacy. The next meeting is at 9 a.m. Aug. 23 at the LVHN McCloskey School of Nursing, Pottsville. Anyone interested is welcome to attend.

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