newsvhha statement public health emergency declaration regarding opioid addiction

VHHA statement on Public Health Emergency declaration regarding opioid addiction


healthcareStatement from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association on the Virginia Public Health Emergency declaration regarding opioid addiction.

Illicit and prescription opioid misuse and abuse is a serious challenge that regrettably threatens lives and harms public health in the Commonwealth and beyond. State Health Commissioner Dr. Marissa Levine’s declaration that the opioid addiction crisis is a Public Health Emergency is an important and appropriate step in the ongoing campaign to combat this issue. The human costs of this epidemic are staggering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 61 percent of U.S. drug overdose deaths in 2014 involved some type of opioid and resulted in 28,647 deaths. Since the turn of the century, the CDC reports, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has increased 200 percent. Virginia’s numbers are also troubling. From 2007-2015, 4,036 deaths in the Commonwealth were related to prescription opioid overdoses. And from 2011-2014, more than 1,300 Virginia babies were born with neonatal abstinence syndrome due to a mother’s drug use.

In response, Virginia’s community hospitals and health systems continue to partner with state government, elected leaders, and the health care community in the fight against the deadly effects of opioid abuse. The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association’s Board of Directors this year called for the development of emergency department opioid prescribing guidelines that have been distributed in hospitals throughout the Commonwealth. The Association has worked with Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Task Force on Prescription Drug and Heroin Abuse. VHHA also supported bi-partisan legislation focused on curbing opioid abuse, and state funding for substance use disorder treatment services for Medicaid beneficiaries.

In addition to those steps, local Virginia hospitals have worked collaboratively with law enforcement, community partners, and other stakeholders to bring planning, resources, and action to the fight against opioid abuse. Public health emergencies such as the opioid epidemic pose a direct threat to public well-being. In these situations, Virginia’s hospitals and health systems are engaged in ways to serve the public good through health care delivery.



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