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Wolf Administration Presents Successes of Warm Hand-off Program at National Workshop

Harrisburg, PA - Today, Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) Secretary Jennifer Smith presented at the Center of Medicaid and Medicare State Opioid Workshop in Baltimore, Maryland. The presentation highlighted the Wolf Administration’s successful implementation of warm hand-off programs throughout the commonwealth.

The State Opioid Workshop brings together state agencies from across the country to showcase successful and emerging state projects and facilitate working sessions on preventing, treating, and mitigating opioid use disorder and overdose deaths.

“I am honored to share the Wolf Administration’s warm hand-off successes with fellow colleagues from around the country,” said Secretary Smith. “Fighting this crisis requires streamlined coordination from a state and local community level. Communities across the commonwealth are seeing the positive results of warm hand-off partnerships. We must all continue to work together to get our loved ones the necessary treatment following an overdose.”

In February 2017, the departments of Drug and Alcohol Programs and 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. County drug and alcohol authorities are now required to establish a warm hand-off policy as part of the 2015-2020 grant agreement between DDAP and the Single County Authorities (SCAs).

Warm hand-off programs exist around the commonwealth at varying levels of implementation, and summits were held to address challenges and facilitate partnerships to share best practices and devise solutions. In 2017, over 50% of emergency room overdose patients were directly referred to substance use disorder treatment through warm hand off.

“When an individual is admitted in the emergency department following an overdose, they are in a critical crossroads in their battle with addiction,” said Smith. “By providing them the opportunity and resources to access treatment, local communities are helping to steer the individual down the road to recovery.”

Strengthening warm hand-off processes remains a priority for Pennsylvania’s second year of Cures Act funding. The administration will convene Warm Hand-off Summit 2.0 in the spring of 2019 to address implantation roadblocks and foster partnerships between local community stakeholders.

Individuals seeking recovery resources for themselves or a loved one can call the toll-free PA Get Help Now helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357). A live chat option is also available online or via text message at 717-216-0905 for those seeking help who may not be comfortable speaking to a helpline operator.

For more information on the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs and warm hand-off visit

MEDIA CONTACT: Rachel Kostelac - 717-547-3314

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