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Department of Health Announces Governor’s Awards for Excellence Recipients

09/29/2020

Harrisburg, PA - Governor Tom Wolf will announce virtually on Wednesday his recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Excellence, which included a program area and an individual from the Department of Health. Recipients from the department were the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program and an individual recipient, Adam Overmiller.

Members of the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP) office recognized with the award included Director Jared Shinabery, Carrie Ann Thomas Goetz, Craig Costigan, Tamara Seiler, John Krahel and Colleen DiVittore. Project manager Stanley Murzynski of the Office of Administration was also recognized for his role on the team.

“I am so proud of the life-saving work and the staff leading these efforts to ensure individuals are connected to treatment,” Secretary of Health Dr. Rachel Levine said. “The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program has played a crucial role in helping Pennsylvania address the opioid crisis. The Patient Advocacy Program, launched by the PDMP in September 2019, is an essential tool to help individuals who abruptly lose access to care.”

Since September 2019, the Patient Advocacy Program has completed rapid responses for 11 events affecting large patient populations, such as the arrest of a provider, the surrender of a DEA license, or the closure of a clinic. Additionally, the program has coordinated outreach to more than 1,060 individuals through direct correspondence and collaboration with the Pennsylvania Insurance Department, commercial health plans, the Department of Human Services, and Managed Care Organizations.

Since August 2016, there has been a 36 percent decrease in opioid prescriptions in Pennsylvania. This reduction is due in part to the PDMP prevention programs aimed at decreasing inappropriate prescribing behaviors.

In addition, the PDMP has worked to send 66 EpiCenter alerts when there are unusually high numbers of drug overdoses in a particular county. These alerts are shared with the Opioid Command Center, state agencies and local stakeholders, with the goal to reduce overdoses and overdose deaths by directing resources to areas of immediate need.

The individual recipient of the Governor’s Award for Excellence, Adam Overmiller, is a Public Health Program Administrator in the Bureau of Health Promotion and Risk Reduction within the department.

Mr. Overmiller is being recognized for his innovative geographic information system (GIS) language mapping tool that captures and shares data on the languages people speak. The tool can be used for education among state agencies to improve communication when reaching and gaining populations, distributing voter registration information, providing education and other commonwealth-provided services.

“The department is committed to working to reach everyone, regardless of their language, race, ethnicity and literacy level,” Secretary Levine said. “This language map is an essential tool for us as we work to communicate with all Pennsylvanians. We are committed to health equity and addressing the social determinants of health, so ensuring we can communicate to someone in their language is a key part of that process.”

The map allows people to be communicated with in their own language, which is essential to creating better health outcomes for individuals. In addition, it will assist the commonwealth in reaching people and transform the way it communicates with residents across the state.

The Governor’s Awards for Excellence recognize commonwealth employees for exemplary job performance or service that reflects initiative, leadership, innovation and/or increased efficiency. A total of 49 employees from nine agencies received awards for accomplishments in 2019.

For more information on the Department of Health, visit at www.health.pa.gov or follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

MEDIA CONTACT: Nate Wardle, 717-787-1783 or ra-dhpressoffice@pa.gov

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