In reviewing the 2015 Opiate Death Rate Data, Lehigh County SCA and all of the Hospitals in Lehigh County recognized that additional support for people struggling with addiction during the critical moment when someone has experienced a medical emergency could save lives.
In response, the Lehigh County SCA and all Lehigh County based hospitals partnered on the HOST program which will provide that additional support for people struggling with addiction when they are at the hospital for an emergency.
HOST services began on January 1, 2017. Since that time, 841 referrals have been made! By comparison, in 2016 – a combined 39 referrals were made for the year. The HOST is an example of what can occur when positive collaborations in our community are made. Funding for the HOST program is made possible by the Lehigh County Department of Drug & Alcohol Abuse Services
[*] The Total Referrals include referrals for Opiates, Alcohol and other substances. Alcohol and Opiates have the largest number of referrals of any substance, and are therefore the only ones reflected on this graph.
Lehigh County has had fewer prescriptions for opiates than Pennsylvania in general and the United States. Since 2010, medical professionals, hospitals and health networks in the Lehigh Valley have taken a hard look at their prescribing practices to ensure that they are prescribing opiates appropriately.
Not all people struggling with addiction end up in the hospital. Some find themselves interacting with the police. The Allentown Police recognized that substance use disorder is a disease, and they would prefer people struggling with addiction get treatment.
In response, the Lehigh County SCA has funded an Outreach program in partnership with the Allentown Police Department in supporting individuals who they come in contact with who are in need of substance abuse assistance.
Outreach formally began at the end of 2016. Between November 2016 and November 2017 the program has made over 3,200 community based contacts.
Based on the overwhelming success of the program in connecting people with treatment, in 2018 it will expand up 7th Street/MacArthur Blvd. into Whitehall. Outreach operates 7 days per week. When not working directly with the police, the Outreach worker is making contacts with community agencies, including, but are not limited to, Daybreak, Conference of Churches, Allentown Health Bureau, and the Allentown Rescue Mission.