United in Recovery Effort Announced

At a regional conference held Friday at the Hood Center on the campus of Geisinger Medical Center, local opioid coalitions announced a regional comprehensive strategy for addressing substance use disorder harm reduction and prevention across a five-county region.

The initiative, United in Recovery, is a partnership among three opioid coalitions: Columbia-Montour, Northumberland, and Snyder-Union Opioid Coalitions. The coalitions were established in 2017 by United Way of Columbia and Montour County and Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way.

“United in Recovery, and the efforts being implemented by our coalitions, provides an innovative approach to an issue devastating communities across the Valley and beyond,” said Mike Piecuch, Snyder County District Attorney and chair of the Snyder-Union Opioid Coalition. “It is urgent and essential that we work together to tackle this problem.”

The announcement was timed with the public release of strategies for each of the coalitions and the launch of a website, www.unitedinrecovery.org, which provides resources to individuals and families seeking assistance, as well as general information for employers and the community at large.

Perry Meadows, medical director of government programs for Geisinger Health Plan, serves as chair for the Northumberland County Opioid Coalition. In Northumberland County in 2017, 26 people died of opioid overdoses.

“Through our efforts educating medical professionals and pharmacists, getting naloxone training and medication into the hands of families, and addressing stigma in the community, we truly feel we are beginning to make some progress on this crisis,” Meadows said.

In addition to preventing overdoses, the United in Recovery effort seeks to create an improved continuum of care for individuals seeking treatment and those in recovery by enhancing support services to clients and their families. The plans also addresses the enhancement of prevention programs and prosocial activities for youth and families in the region. 

The coalitions, along with coalitions in surrounding counties, are supported through the PA Heroin Overdose Prevention Technical Assistance Center (PERU TAC) based at the University of Pittsburgh School of Pharmacy. PERU TAC supported the design of each coalition strategy and helped to plan the regional meeting held Friday. 

The coalition strategies and other resources can be found at www.unitedinrecovery.org.

Joanne Troutman