16-bed detoxification center will open in Mt. Pleasant next year
Drug addicts will be able to get treatment in a medically controlled environment when a 16-bed detoxification center opens next year in Mt. Pleasant, the executive director of Westmoreland County Drug and Alcohol Commission said on Thursday.
Colleen Hughes said Gateway Rehabilitation of Beaver County will open the center at Excela Health Frick Hospital and recently signed a contract with the drug and alcohol commission.
Drug treatment providers have been clamoring for a detox center to properly treat addicts going through withdrawal and to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths.
“We've not had detox in the county for many, many years,” Hughes said. “It's long overdue.”
The announcement was made during a news conference that the county's Drug Overdose Death Task Force held at Westmoreland County Courthouse Square in Greensburg.
Starting June 24, the drug and alcohol commission will have a mobile case manager serving hospital emergency rooms to provide immediate services for overdose patients, Hughes said.
Overdose patients taken to an emergency room will be offered detox and treatment within 24 hours. Currently, physicians can offer an addict only pamphlets detailing where to seek help.
Tim Phillips, director of community prevention services at Westmoreland Community Action, said an in-county facility will save lives.
“It's of the utmost importance,” he said. “We need to take care of our own instead of waiting and going out of county.”
Dirk Matson, director of human services for the county, said Gateway's decision to open a local treatment facility is “huge.”
“It's important to have rehab in Westmoreland County close to where families live so they can be part of the treatment and rehabilitation,” Matson said.
Though officials can't estimate the number of addicts in the county, Matson isn't sure 16 beds will be sufficient to meet demand.
The last detox unit in the county, at the former Monsour Medical Center, closed in 2006.
The nearest detox centers are in Allegheny and Beaver counties, and there is often a waiting list for a bed, Phillips said.
Addicts often undergo painful withdrawal at home without medical treatment that would ease the symptoms, officials said. In a controlled setting, an addict can be treated with drugs such as Suboxone or Naltrexone to lessen the flu-like symptoms of withdrawal, including pain, tremors, nausea, headaches, anxiety and confusion.
The need for detox is critical because the pace of overdose deaths is increasing, according to Coroner Ken Bacha.
His office has investigated 45 overdose deaths this year, and 13 more are pending. Bacha said the county is on pace to break the 2013 record of 86 overdose deaths.
“We could have 90 to 100 at the pace we're going right now,” the coroner said.
Heroin has been flooding the county, and Matson said most heroin addiction is a result of prescription drug use.
The Drug Overdose Death Task Force Thursday urged passage of a state prescription drug-monitoring bill that has passed the Senate and moved to the House, said Sen. Kim Ward, R-Hempfield. She is a co-sponsor of the Senate bill.
Under the law, a state database tracking all narcotics prescriptions would be accessible to law enforcement officers with a search warrant and physicians who could check to see what drugs a patient has used before writing prescriptions.
Ward said the House could pass it by the end of the month.
Pennsylvania is one of two states that does not have a monitoring bill, Matson said.
State Rep. Mike Reese, R-Mt. Pleasant, said the differences between the House and Senate version are not significant, and he expects passage.
The House bill will be referred to the Health Committee, then to the Rules Committee before returning to the Senate for concurrence. It would then go to Gov. Tom Corbett for his signature.
Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 7 arrested in Latrobe-area drug dealing
- Woman to stand trial in Jeannette tot’s death
- Woman admits to theft of 2 weapons in Latrobe shooting case
- Police: Woman tried to start fire at neighbor’s house in Derry Township
- Psychologist’s compassion buoyed students, friends
- Bank seeks to foreclose on Eastern Derry Twp. VFD
- Westmoreland County sheriff won’t alter staffing as cash runs out
- New Stanton council hikes garbage fees to $13.65 per month
- Higher property taxes in Westmoreland County ruled out despite $15M budget gap
- Students learn risks of digital lives at middle school presentation in Hempfield
- Belle Vernon-Speers Bridge work set for next summer