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Gov. Carney signs three bills to combat opioid crisis

Nick Ciolino / Delaware Public Media

Gov. John Carney (D) signed three pieces of legislation Monday meant to mitigate damages caused by the opioid crisis.

One of the bills creates a statewide system of care for overdose patients.

Sandra Gibney, MD of St. Francis Hospital and Delaware’s Behavioral Health Consortium says the system of care will be fashioned after the state’s current systems for pediatrics, trauma and strokes.

“Ideally, within a year, we’ll have it tightened up so that a person that is suffering from substance use disorder is treated with the same kind of algorithmic fashion as we would a heart attack or a stroke,” said Gibney.

The bill also aims to bolster addiction treatment resources in the state’s emergency rooms, among its first responders, in schools and in prisons.

Representatives from all of these groups will be included alongside addiction specialists on a committee to oversee the rollout of care standards.

Additionally, the legislation allows for the creation of stabilization centers in Delaware. These facilities would have medication-assisted treatment available as well as avenues for connecting overdose patients with addiction counseling.

Attack Addiction’s Dave Humes says the centers are a very important part.

“If (patients) get into the stabilization center where it’s a more relaxed atmosphere—much more relaxing—they won’t have the anxiety,” said Humes. “They can take care of that withdrawal so they don’t have to leave and get out of there and try to use again just to take the edge off of withdrawal symptoms.”

The other two bills signed by Carney Monday will encourage pain treatments other than opioid prescription.

One bill removes the insurance limits on physical therapy for patients with chronic pain, while the other aims to identify and provide education to doctors and pharmacists with excessive opioid prescribing practices.

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