Centre officials support town hall meetings on opioid crisis

By JAIMEE KESTER

jkester@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE – The Centre County Commissioners announced their support for a series of town hall meetings focused on the growing heroin and opioid crisis in the area.

The first meeting is slated for July 26, 2016, from 7 to 9 p.m. at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College. The theme of the night is “Identifying the Problem.” Subsequent town hall meetings will cover additional topics related to the heroin problem.

All are welcome to attend and hear from a panel of experts. Much of the information presented will be useful to those with family members struggling with an opioid addiction.

“There is a lot of misinformation out there,” said Jeannine Lozier, community outreach coordinator at Mount- Nittany Medical center. “That’s what these meetings are about…getting the right information to the public.”

Panelists at the meeting will include Kerry Benninghoff, Pa. State Representative, Gary Tennis, Esq., Pa. Secretary of Drug and Alcohol Programs, Kasandra Botti, DO, Medical Director, Emergency Medical Services, Mount Nittany Medical Center, Sergeant Kelly Aston, State College Police Department, Katie Hugo, certified recovery specialist at Crossroads Counseling, Cathy Arbogast, Assistant Administrator for Drug and Alcohol Centre County, and Stephanie Bradley, PhD, Managing Director, Penn State EPIS Center.

According to the Centre County Coroner’s Office, there have been over 31 overdose related deaths in the past two years. As of June there have already been 12 overdose related deaths in 2016. This spike in deaths has the community and officials concerned.

Commissioner Steve Dershem will provide opening remarks at the meeting and Commissioner Mark Higgins will also be in attendance.

The event is sponsored by the Centre County Hope Initiative which works to raise awareness about the national heroin and opioid epidemic, and the impact the crisis is having on our state and local community.

For more information on the series of events contact Mount Nittany Medical Center at 814-234-6727.

In other business the commissioners:

r Approved a contract addendum between the county and Atlantic Tomorrow’s Office (formerly Full Circle) for statewide imaging contract previously approved on 12/2/2015 under the former vendor name. The contract total is $5,138.83 for the period June 20, 2016 to June 20, 2017.

r Approved a letter of Agreement between the county and Danville State Hospital. This agreement is in keeping with the MH/MR Act of 1966 and the Pa. Mental Health Procedures Act 143 of 1976, as amended by Act 324 of 1978, the 7100 Regulations Series and Mental Health Bulletins No. 99-83-24, 99-80-15, 99-81-47, 99-83-02, 00-82-123, 99-84-39 and 99-85-21 and Act 21. No funds are attached to this agreement for the period July 1, 2016 to June 30, 2019.

r Approved a C-Net Request for the Blueprint for Success Ceremony, Friday, July 29, 2016 at the Mount Nittany United Methodist Church Social Room, 1500 East Branch Rd., Lemont, from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.