Jul. 12, 2017

HARRISBURG – Reps. Donna Oberlander (R-Clarion/Armstrong/Forest) and Lee James (R-Venango/Butler), both members of the Clarion University Council of Trustees, along with Sen. Scott Hutchinson (R-Venango/Butler) today applauded the efforts of the university to respond to the state’s growing opioid epidemic by implementing a new certificate program for recovery specialists.

The Opioid Treatment Specialist Certificate, the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, was announced by the governor in Harrisburg on Wednesday. Oberlander, James and Hutchinson were on hand for the announcement and offered their support for the new program.

“Sadly, the opioid crisis in Pennsylvania continues to impact communities and families throughout our region and across the Commonwealth,” Oberlander said. “One of the most effective ways to respond to this crisis is by ensuring that treatment professionals – and those specializing in opioid abuse – are available. This certificate program is one such way to train individuals to help ensure that people who are in need of treatment can obtain it and save lives.”

According to the university, the certificate is an online, four course (12-credit) certificate that anyone may take which would qualify someone to be an opioid treatment specialist. It will be offered through the creation of the university’s College of Health and Human Services.

“I appreciate the way Clarion University has stepped up – in both recognizing the depth of the crisis and finding ways in which to help our communities,” said James. “This is yet another example of Clarion University showing its value, not only within the State System of Higher Education but in helping provide in-demand course offerings and certificates to meet current workforce needs.”

“This one-of-a-kind program offered by Clarion University fills a critical need in combatting the on-going opioid crisis that is devastating so many lives and families in our community,” Hutchinson said. “I thank Dr. Karen Whitney and Dr. Ray Feroz for their leadership with this crucial issue. It is yet another example of Clarion University’s important role in developing strategies to address the pressing challenges facing our region.”

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency’s recently released report, 4,642 people in Pennsylvania died from heroin and opioid overdoses in 2016. The Pennsylvania Coroners Association reported a preliminary figure of 4,812 overdose deaths in 2016, with numbers likely to increase pending toxicology tests. Both numbers represent a 37 percent increase over 2015 deaths.

Representative Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Representative Lee James
64th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Keaton
RepOberlander.com / Facebook.com/RepOberlander
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