LATEST PROJECT NEWS
On Friday, October 12, 2018, Battling Opioids attended the Pennsylvania Conference for Women. We presented a panel discussion, “Women and the Battle Against Opioids,” featuring WQED Pittsburgh President/CEO Deb Acklin, Emmy-winning WQED producer Beth Dolinar (producer of “Broken: Women-Families-Opioids“) and Penn Medicine emergency medicine physician/researcher Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone. The panel was livestreamed and is available to watch on Facebook.
Pennsylvania Public Media staff manned our event booth, speaking with attendees and distributing information along with opioid medication deactivation pouches.
Watch the “Women and the Battle Against Opioids” panel discussion here.
On Tuesday, September 25 at 4 pm in the Ryan Office Building Rotunda, state officials and legislators joined Pennsylvania Public Media for a preview of the Battling Opioids documentary and an introduction to the people behind and in front of the camera–as well as updates on legislative and state efforts to combat the opioid crisis. You can watch the event here. The event featured the following speakers:
- Kathleen Pavelko, President and CEO, WITF
- PA State Representative Warren Kampf, Co-Chair, Pennsylvania Public Television Caucus
- PA State Senator Gene Yaw, PA HOPE (Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education) Caucus
- PA State Representative Doyle Heffley, House Opioid Addictions Task Force
- Ray Barishansky, Pennsylvania Department of Health Deputy Secretary; Incident Commander, Opioid Operational Command Center
- Tom Currá, President and CEO, WVIA Public Media
- Beth Thies, mother of Chris Wall, who died of an opioid overdose
- Alexis Johnson, bodybuilder, model and advocate, in recovery from opioid use disorder
- Don Tollefson, former sportscaster, in recovery from opioid use disorder
Representatives from Pennsylvania’s Public Media stations attended the PRO-ACT Recovery Walk in Philadelphia the morning of September 22, 2018. The nation’s largest walk for substance abuse and mental health recovery, the Recovery Walk is attended by more than 20,000 people each year (27,000 walked in 2017), including people in recovery, their loved ones, and advocates. PRO-ACT is a program of The Council of Southeast Pennsylvania, Inc.
Statewide broadcast September 27 to address stigma, offer stories of hope
In one of the states hit hardest by the opioid crisis, public media is bringing people together to fight back.
Seven public media stations from across Pennsylvania — WHYY (Philadelphia), WITF (Harrisburg), WLVT/PBS39 (Greater Lehigh Valley), WPSU (State College), WQED (Pittsburgh), WQLN (Northwestern PA) and WVIA (Northeastern PA) — have banded together in Battling Opioids, a project to create and share programming, convene community conversations about the opioid crisis, and direct people to state and local resources and information on where to get help.
“Battling Opioids, A Project of Pennsylvania Public Media” will air at 8pm Sept 27 across the networks, and will feature a 60-minute documentary to which all stations contributed. It will be followed by a live panel discussion. The program is hosted by award-winning journalist Paola Giangiacomo, host of WVIA’s television series Call the Doctor.
View a 30-second preview here.
Stations are convening related watch events and community conversations across the state this month, including a program for legislators in Harrisburg on Sept 25.
“Our stations’ demographics across the state may differ, but the opioid crisis affects all of us,” said Kathleen Pavelko, President and CEO of WITF. “By pooling our resources, we can leverage the educational and civic opportunities that public media offers to solve statewide challenges like this.”
“As public media, we have a unique ability to both raise awareness through our reporting and to convene public forums for dialogue,” said Tom Currá, President and CEO of WVIA. “We are committed to doing our part to reverse the epidemic by educating the public on how opioid addiction happens while at the same time reducing the stigma that prevents people from seeking help.”
In January 2018, Governor Tom Wolf issued a disaster declaration for Pennsylvania’s “heroin and opioid epidemic” — the first such declaration for a man-made disaster. Provisional data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated there were 5,655 drug overdose deaths in Pennsylvania in the 12-month period leading up to December 2017 — more than 15 per day — most of them from opioids. Pennsylvania’s state government has set up a clearinghouse website and hotline [1-800-662-HELP] for anyone who wants to give or get help.
The Battling Opioids initiative began in March 2018 with stations running specific programming focused on the opioid crisis, and continues to grow. A new website, BattlingOpioids.org, helps direct people to state resources and keep them informed of project news and local events. Battling Opioids has received major support from Geisinger and additional support from The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
“Many Pennsylvanians want to know what they can personally do to address this crisis,” Pavelko said. “By connecting with Battling Opioids, everyone in the state can get involved to make a difference.”
To learn more about the Battling Opioids initiative and to view selected segments of the Sept 27 program, please visit www.BattlingOpioids.org and follow @BattlingOpioids on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
A crisis of unprecedented proportions is killing 10 to 16 Pennsylvanians every day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that number is rising every year. Against this backdrop, Pennsylvania’s Public Media is collaborating efforts to produce programming that focuses on the opioid crisis and the impact it is having. Listen to WITF’s Smart Talk podcast as the station kicks off Battling Opioids: A Project of Pennsylvania Public Media. The podcast features WITF President and CEO Kathleen Pavelko; Beth Dolinar, producer of Broken: Women • Families • Opioids; Keira McGuire, a producer with WITF Public Media’s Emmy award-winning news and information series, Health Smart; and Matthew Null, the Referral Development Manager for the Central Region of Gaudenzia.
Reporting From Pennsylvania Public Media
Selected reporting from Pennsylvania Public Media about the opioid crisis.