A year after launching, Lancaster County Joining Forces is seeing positive results.
For the second quarter in a row, overdose deaths decreased in Lancaster County. From April to June, 23 overdose deaths were recorded, down from 31 overdose deaths in January through March.
A targeted approach of evidence-based initiatives, led by Joining Forces Lancaster County partners –including Lancaster General Health, are making an impact on the opioid and heroin crisis in the County.
Joining Forces started with unified messaging to the community.
“In the past year, Joining Forces has distributed over 100,000 informational materials to the community,” said Alice Yoder, Director of Community Health at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health. “The materials focus on telling people where to get help, how to take medications as prescribed, keep them locked up and dispose of them when you don’t need them anymore.”
In addition to community outreach, Joining Forces strengthened community efforts with other evidence-based program. The group helped increase access to treatment and worked with local health systems to equip providers with the data and tools needed to improve prescribing methods and increase use of alternative therapies. First responders have responded to the crisis by administering Naloxone to people who have overdosed.
A “warm-hand off” program was also launched at all local hospitals, thanks to the Lancaster County Drug & Alcohol Commission and the RASE Project, to assist individuals who have overdosed in getting immediate help and recommendations for rehabilitation
“All of these efforts are making a difference,” said Yoder. “And what’s important is that we are seeing a reduction in deaths. This decline makes us cautiously optimistic. We still have work to do, but the decrease in overdose deaths encourages us to work even harder.”
Visit the Joining Forces website for information on where to get help, educational resources, community news and more.
The next Joining Forces Lancaster Count quarterly meeting is Friday, Sept. 14. Members of the community are welcome to attend. Contact Susan Trace by Aug. 31 to RSVP for the meeting.