DHSS Relaunches ‘Help Is Here’ Website with Accompanying Prevention, Treatment, and Recovery Support Campaign

NEW CASTLE – The Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) today launched an updated and significantly improved version of Delaware’s centralized online resource for addiction prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery information, HelpIsHereDE.com. The website is designed to assist people struggling with addiction, their families, the community, and medical providers.

The new version of “Help is Here” is easier to navigate, can be translated into four languages (Spanish, Haitian Creole, French, and Chinese), is more mobile-device friendly, and offers updated information for the community and medical providers. Its expanded video section features new and highly personal testimonials from individuals in long-term recovery, parents who have lost adult children to overdoses, a treatment provider, and a police officer.

Governor John Carney expressed his support for the website and for the role it can play in reducing the toll of addiction.

“Combating the addiction epidemic is a priority of my administration,” Governor Carney said. “Too many people are dying from this disease and too many families are suffering. As we work together to continue to build a system that better recognizes, prevents and treats addiction, Help is Here is a key tool.”

Delaware Lieutenant Governor Bethany Hall-Long, Division of Public Health (DPH) Director Dr. Karyl Rattay, and Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH) Director Michael Barbieri made the announcement, which included a reveal and demonstration of the updated site.

“Prevention and intervention are key to battling addiction in our state,” said Lt. Gov. Hall-Long. “This is particularly true when it comes to our children. Stress, trauma, early exposure to drugs in the teen years, and early symptoms of a mental disorder can lead to addiction and mental illness. Making parents aware of and connecting them to supportive information through the ‘Help Is Here’ website is vital to preventing years of struggle with substance use.”

Children who learn about the risks of drugs and alcohol from their parents are up to 50 percent less likely to use drugs than those who don’t get the information at home.

Delaware, like much of the country, is experiencing an addiction epidemic. In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses in Delaware, compared to 228 overdose deaths reported in 2015. Up to 80 percent of Delaware’s drug overdoses may involve one or more prescription drugs. According to the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), eight out of 10 new heroin users first abused prescription painkillers.

A key focus of the updated site is providing additional resources for physicians and other medical providers, such as information on the new regulations for the safe prescribing of opiates released this April by the Delaware Department of State’s Division of Professional Regulation (DPR). The regulations establish standards for prescribing opioids safely for pain management. Opioids can be a powerful tool if prescribed and used carefully, but should never be the first line of defense to treat chronic pain.

“Addiction is a chronic disease with a complicated set of causes. Our goal with the revised website is to increase awareness and supportive information across the community,” said DPH Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “The website is the only one of its kind in the nation, one that seeks to address community needs and also provide guidance and information to medical providers. The refreshed site includes resources for DPR’s new regulations, and a helpful screening tool to aid providers in easily screening patients for substance use disorders as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

In addition to sharing information about where to receive treatment, the state is also focused on building additional public treatment services. In February 2016, DSAMH opened new residential treatment beds at four locations in Smyrna, Dover and Delaware City, increasing capacity by 22 percent. These beds are available for both men and women who have received withdrawal management services and are in need of residential treatment to further their recoveries. These changes increased DSAMH’s total number of residential treatment beds from 78 to 95, with all beds having a variable length of stay.

A statewide expansion of residential treatment beds for youth age 18-25 is expected to be online in late summer. This expansion will increase beds from 16 to 32.

DSAMH has 16 beds for individuals suffering from significant co-occurring disorders (mental illness and addiction). And, to support residential recovery services, the state has 120 recovery house beds statewide to aid individuals in their local communities.

“Being in treatment for an addiction can be hard, but recovery is achievable,” said Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Director Michael Barbieri. “Recovery is a journey with ups and downs. We want to provide a variety of treatment options to meet a person where they are and provide them with the level of care they need. There is no wrong door to enter to begin the recovery process.”

DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker also expressed her support for the greater outreach to the community through the website and accompanying media campaign.

“Addiction is a brain disease, not a character flaw,” said Secretary Walker, a family physician. “The first step toward recovery is seeking a treatment path that is right for the person in need. This website can help parents understand if a teen-age son or daughter is exhibiting signs of addiction and where to seek help if they are. And for those already in the throes of the disease, Help Is Here offers easy access to information about treatment and recovery services in Delaware and nearby states. The testimonial videos will help those impacted by this disease to understand they are not alone.”

HelpIsHereDE.com was first launched in October 2014.

To be connected to resources immediately, call the DHSS 24/7 Crisis Helpline at:

  • New Castle County: 800-652-2929
  • Kent and Sussex counties: 800-345-6785.

Help is Here will be updated throughout 2017, including information coming soon on how to prevent, recognize and treat substance exposure in infants, screen pregnant women for addiction and connect them to treatment sources, and significantly expand information for medical providers.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


DHSS and Delaware State Police Warn of Spike in Overdoses in Western Sussex County; Immediate Assistance Available at 911 or DHSS’ Crisis Helpline

NEW CASTLE (April 22, 2017) – In the wake of a significant increase in heroin overdoses in western Sussex County, including one that was fatal, from Thursday through early Saturday, health and law enforcement officials are warning users, families, treatment providers and health care professionals of the dangerous spike.

For users and families who want to be connected to treatment immediately, call the Department of Health and Social Services’ 24/7 Crisis Helpline at 1-800-345-6785 in Sussex and Kent counties, or 1-800-652-2929 in New Castle County. If individuals see someone overdosing, they should call 911. Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 911 to report an overdoses and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.
Sergeant Richard D. Bratz, director of the Public Information Office for the Delaware State Police reports that a significant spike of heroin overdoses has occurred over the past several days in Sussex County. The Sussex County Drug Unit is actively investigating and seeking information on any of the drug overdoses. The public is encouraged to call Sergeant M. Dawson of the Sussex County Drug Unit at 302-752-3815 with any information.

 

Michael Barbieri, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health, alerted treatment providers statewide of the surge in overdoses in western Sussex. Hospitals and urgent care centers were notified of the increase by the Division of Public Health’s Emergency Medical Services, which oversees the state’s paramedic service. EMS responded to seven reported overdoses in a 24-hour period beginning Thursday in the Seaford and Laurel areas. In several of the cases, paramedics used naloxone, the overdose-reversing medication, to save the individual before transporting each person to the hospital.
“This spike in overdoses is alarming,” said Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a family physician and Cabinet Secretary for the Department of Health and Social Services. “Even one use of heroin or another opioid can end a life. For people in active use and their families, please convince your loved ones to seek treatment for their addiction or keep naloxone in your home. Addiction is a disease and treatment does work. Our staff at the DHSS Crisis Helpline will listen and they will connect you to treatment options.”

 

In 2016, 308 people died from overdoses in Delaware, almost triple the number who died in traffic accidents. In 2015, a total of 228 people died from overdoses in Delaware, with 222 overdoses deaths reported in 2014.

 

Prevention, treatment and recovery information and resources in Delaware and nearby states also are available on DHSS’ www.HelpIsHereDE.com website. DHSS will initiate a community outreach campaign in May that will include an unveiling of the revamped website, materials for medical providers on prescribing pain medications, and information on how to screen patients and connect them with addiction treatment resources, as well as materials on preventing substance exposure in infants.

 

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The Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.


Governor Carney Delivers Address to Joint Session of the General Assembly

Governor lays out plan for growing the economy, improving Delaware’s schools and balancing the budget

DOVER, Del. – Governor John Carney delivered a Special Address to a Joint Session of the 149th General Assembly on Thursday, saying he is determined to take steps that will grow Delaware’s economy, address the addiction crisis, coordinate services for families in need, improve security at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center, and make government more efficient – while working with legislators on a long-term plan to bridge a $385 million budget shortfall.

Full text of the speech, as prepared for delivery, is available below.

“It’s our responsibility to keep our state a great place to live and work and raise a family,” said Governor Carney, during his address. “A state ready to compete in the economy of the 21st century. I know we all want that. And I know we all understand that means tough choices today that will pay off for our state tomorrow.”

Thursday’s speech, delivered in the Senate Chamber at Legislative Hall in Dover, was Governor Carney’s first address to the General Assembly as Governor. Attendees included County and City leaders, members of the Delaware Judiciary, members of Governor Carney’s Cabinet, statewide elected officials, and representatives from Delaware’s higher education institutions.

Below are highlights from the Governor’s address:

ON THE BUDGET:

“I know that all of you in the General Assembly are tired of sitting here year after year talking about how we can climb out of another budget hole. Some things are beyond our control, but this one is not. It’s within our power, this June, to put ourselves on a more sustainable financial footing. My budget does that, and I look forward to working with each of you on your ideas to do the same. What I will not do is use budget gimmicks or one-time fixes to bail us out on June 30, only to be right back here next year giving the same speech.”

ON THE DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION:

“Twelve days after this horrible incident, we launched an independent review, led by former Justice Henry DuPont Ridgeley and former Judge Bill Chapman. I will receive their recommendations by June 1 and will work quickly with the leaders of the Correction Committees in the House and Senate to develop a plan of action. It will not be a report that collects dust on a shelf. Officer Wilkinson: I pledge to you that we will make real improvements and we will make them quickly.”

ON THE ECONOMY:

“We need a new, more dynamic, economic development strategy. One that can leverage the resources of our business sector, as well as higher education and not for profits. The Delaware Economic Development Office needs to be at the forefront of moving Delaware into the 21st century economy. So my first act as governor was to find a way to energize our economic development efforts. We’re going to do that by bringing private sector involvement into DEDO.”

ON THE COASTAL ZONE ACT:

“Other brownfields will require a fresh look at our venerable Coastal Zone Act. I don’t underestimate how hard this will be. Or how important it is to protect the beautiful natural areas along our coastline. But, I’m committed to working with all the relevant stakeholders to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. Our goal is to allow redevelopment in parts of our state that were once home to good-paying manufacturing jobs. I believe we can make reasonable changes to this law that will protect our environment while allowing our economy to grow. I want us to work together over the next few months so that we leave here in June with reasonable reforms that will leave our state better off.”

ON EDUCATION:

“Perhaps more important than anything we do to strengthen our economy is getting our schools on track, and making sure that every child is college- or career-ready. With fewer resources, we need to make better use of what we have, beginning with the Department of Education. I’ve asked Secretary Bunting to lead my effort to reorganize the Department of Education so that it’s more responsive to the needs of teachers and administrators. Educators should see the Department of Education as another player on their team — not an obstacle to progress or a drain on resources.”

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A high resolution photo is available here.

Governor Carney’s Address to the General Assembly
March 30, 2017 – As prepared for delivery

Lt. Governor Hall-Long, Mister President Pro Temp, Mister Speaker, Members of the 149th General Assembly, Members of the Cabinet, Distinguished members of the Judiciary, invited guests, and my fellow Delawareans:

In the 10 short weeks since I was sworn in as governor, I have been traveling up and down our state doing town hall meetings. From Seaford and Lewes, to Dover and Pike Creek, Newark and Wilmington, I’ve spoken with thousands of Delawareans. I’ve been joined by almost twenty members of the General Assembly.

The topic was the budget. But we got an earful on a lot of important issues. Some people came to complain. Others came looking for help. Others came looking for support.

But we all seemed to agree on one thing: business as usual has to change. If we are going to tackle the tough issues that confront us, we need to get our financial house in order. We need a budget reset — a new plan to set us on stronger financial footing and make our state more competitive. A long-term solution to a nearly $400 million budget deficit.

As Senator Lavelle and many others have put it, if you’re in a hole, the first thing you do is stop digging. I’ve proposed an operating budget that grows government spending less than three-tenths of one percent. It contains a 50-50 mix of spending cuts and new revenue. It’s built on the principle of shared sacrifice.

Our north star in building this budget was making Delaware more competitive. While we went line by line, deciding which programs to cut and which to preserve, which taxes to raise and which to leave untouched, we asked ourselves the same question over and over again: “How will this decision impact our ability to grow our economy and compete?”

We worked hard to be forward-looking. Focused on the future. Not to be short-sighted. To raise taxes only where our economy could bear it. To continue making investments critical to our next generation.

It would be easy to get lost in the doom and gloom of budget cuts and tax hikes. There is something in our budget for everyone not to like.

But there is more to this budget than that.

Our dreams for our children’s future don’t disappear because of a budget crisis.

The needs of our state’s most vulnerable become no less acute.

We cannot and will not let our budget challenges halt the wheels of progress.

We have work to do and we will do it. Here’s how.

The best way to move beyond a fiscal crisis like the one we’re in is to grow our economy. Stronger economic growth, and more and better jobs, helps Delaware families. And it helps us fund the state’s budget.

We need a new, more dynamic, economic development strategy. One that can leverage the resources of our business sector, as well as higher education and not for profits. The Delaware Economic Development Office needs to be at the forefront of moving Delaware into the 21st century economy. So my first act as governor was to find a way to energize our economic development efforts. We’re going to do that by bringing private sector involvement into DEDO.

A new and improved DEDO, a public private partnership, will be put to work right away creating job growth projects like Incyte’s expansion on Augustine Cutoff. It will look for ways to strengthen our pipeline of skilled workers by supporting efforts like Zip Code Wilmington and the Horn Program at the University of Delaware. It will foster a culture of innovation through partnerships with the Star Campus and the Delaware Technology Park. And it will help bring a new group of job creators with innovative ideas to our state.

The DEDO working group will issue its report next week. Then, we will get to work with the General Assembly to make DEDO more effective at attracting and retaining good-paying, middle class jobs of the future.

One of the best ways to create those jobs is to redevelop existing facilities that are unused or underutilized. That’s what’s taking place right now with JP Morgan’s reuse of buildings once owned by Astra Zeneca. Today in Delaware, the financial services sector is the biggest job creator in our state — and we want it to continue to grow. We are working on a similar strategy for turning underutilized space at the DuPont Experimental Station into an economic driver for our state.

We will also work to redevelop the brownfields that are remnants of old industrial sites, like the old steel plant in Claymont, the General Motors auto plant in Newport, and the Seaford nylon plant. One example of this type of effort is the Port of Wilmington’s recent purchase of the Chemours site at Edgemoor. Expansion is vital to the long-term viability of our port. Attracting outside investment and new business will allow us to create jobs and reduce taxpayer subsidies. This in turn helps solve our budget challenges. Another opportunity is the tremendous redevelopment that has already occurred on Wilmington’s Riverfront. With a new bridge over the Christina slated to begin by early summer, I believe we can create thousands of new jobs in the City of Wilmington.

Other brownfields will require a fresh look at our venerable Coastal Zone Act. I don’t underestimate how hard this will be. Or how important it is to protect the beautiful natural areas along our coastline. But, I’m committed to working with all the relevant stakeholders to modernize the Coastal Zone Act. Our goal is to allow redevelopment in parts of our state that were once home to good-paying manufacturing jobs. I believe we can make reasonable changes to this law that will protect our environment while allowing our economy to grow. I want us to work together over the next few months so that we leave here in June with reasonable reforms that will leave our state better off.

The focus of a revamped economic development strategy, though, needs to go beyond attracting and retaining big businesses. Agriculture remains the bedrock of the Delaware economy. The best way to preserve agriculture is to help family farmers be more profitable. One way we can do that is to help farmers in their nutrient management efforts to protect Delaware waterways. Our administration will work to develop better approaches to accomplish that objective.

Here again, innovation is the key to our future. The most important part of our long-term strategy is building on the resources we already have to help startups and large and small businesses grow and create jobs. Delaware already has a lot of the tools in place to build an economy based on innovation and entrepreneurialism. Delaware’s newest incubator, DTP @ STAR, opened last year and was full on Day 1. And resources like the Delaware Technology Park, New Castle County Chamber’s Emerging Enterprise Center, and The Mill in the old Nemours Building provide affordable and supportive space for entrepreneurs to develop their businesses. We will seek new opportunities to build more space like this and attract the entrepreneurs that will reshape our economy.

Once we have them here, we need to keep them here so Delaware can benefit from that business and job growth. In most cases, that means access to capital. We will put in place a plan to ensure that businesses that start here, can afford to grow here. We’ll put in place the resources to make sure Delaware entrepreneurs can access the capital they need, when they need it. Our state will take full advantage of the transition to an innovation-based economy.

We have always been a state that depends heavily on exports — from poultry to highly engineered products in Delaware’s biotech industry. We are pushing harder now to get more small businesses into export markets. We’ve developed the state’s first strategic export plan. Earlier this month, eight small businesses went to Germany on a trade mission organized by our Global Delaware team from the Department of State. Those companies will generate millions of dollars in new sales, while creating more jobs here at home.

Perhaps more important than anything we do to strengthen our economy is getting our schools on track, and making sure that every child is college- or career-ready. With fewer resources, we need to make better use of what we have, beginning with the Department of Education. I’ve asked Secretary Bunting to lead my effort to reorganize the Department of Education so that it’s more responsive to the needs of teachers and administrators. Educators should see the Department of Education as another player on their team — not an obstacle to progress or a drain on resources.

Starting in her first week in office, Secretary Bunting has been spending time in classrooms, with teachers, in our most vulnerable schools. She’s asking them what they need to be successful, and designing a plan to get them what they need. For each school and district, the needs will be different. One school may need a stronger pre-school program so students arrive at kindergarten ready to learn. Another may need an after-school program. Our solution will not be one size fits all.

We will be coming back to the legislature and school communities with our plan to reform the Department of Education. We will make the Department responsive to the needs of the teachers and students in the classroom.

The budget I proposed last week had almost no new spending. One exception was in educating our most vulnerable students. My budget includes a down payment on Education Opportunity Grants, a program that will direct more resources to our neediest students. The debate over district boundaries in New Castle County has been raging for years, and we will continue to engage on those issues. But we should not allow the politics of redistricting to distract us. This is about the kids. We need to incentivize innovation in the classroom, and we need to start now. Having the best schools will enable us to have the strongest economy.

A strong economy and good-paying jobs go a long way toward making most families stable and healthy. But for too many Delaware families — and far too many of our state’s children — a growing economy is not enough. These families, these kids, need our help. That’s why I’ve re-established the Family Services Cabinet Council, which meets for the first time next week. Many Delaware families continue to face significant challenges — including the high cost of child care; violence and poverty in their neighborhoods; the impact of caring for an aging family member; or the challenges of navigating an economy in transition.

The Family Services Cabinet Council will spearhead a new effort to coordinate public and private services that are often fragmented. The Council will propose changes to current programs to improve the delivery of state services. We will tackle the hardest problems: Reducing the number of substance-exposed infants. Increasing the availability of re-entry programs in prison. Expanding community center hours in crime-ridden neighborhoods. I will chair this Council myself, and my cabinet secretaries will be engaged personally. And we will hold ourselves accountable for real results.

A major impediment to families being stable and successful is the opioid crisis plaguing our state and country. When last measured, Delaware had the nation’s fifth highest overall rate of opioid sales. And in too many cases opioid abuse contributes to our state’s tragic heroin problem. Effective April 1st, we will impose new protections for the safe prescribing of opioids. These new regulations will be some of the most far-reaching in the nation. Working with Attorney General Denn, we have introduced new legislation to allow expanded use of the state’s prescription database to better target doctors who overprescribe.

Prevention is key. But, we also need an all hands on deck approach to save the lives of those battling opioid and heroin addiction. I will continue the work to increase the availability of residential treatment, recovery homes, and expanded services for outpatient treatment slots. Delaware’s Prescription Drug Action Committee has developed a set of recommendations from stakeholders across the spectrum. I will make this body permanent and give it the real authority to implement a strategic approach to battling addiction in Delaware. I’ve asked Lt. Governor Hall-Long to take the lead on coordinating state efforts in this area.

I’ve talked about how our government can be a more effective leader in the economy, education, and helping Delaware families that are struggling. But we also need to be a better leader in another important way: As the state’s largest employer, we need to set the example as a workplace that is fair, diverse, and free from discrimination. This is an area where actions speak louder than words. So earlier today, pursuant to Executive Order 6, the Office of Management and Budget transmitted to me a statewide antidiscrimination policy. This uniform policy will mean better, standardized inclusion and diversity training for state personnel. And it will ensure that state workers know where to go if they aren’t being treated fairly.

But that is not enough. In the coming weeks, I will submit a proposal for creating a separate agency whose sole focus will be Human Resources. This agency will include a Chief Diversity Officer, whose sole mission will be to promote diversity and inclusion throughout state government. The Markell Administration commissioned a report to study issues of discrimination and the lack of diversity and inclusion in state government. The report provided a series of recommendations which the Chief Diversity Officer will be responsible for implementing. I believe it is the right thing to do and I ask the General Assembly to support this effort.

No matter how well you plan for the transition as a new governor, no one is ever prepared for the tragedy that occurred on February 1st, 15 days after we took office. We lost a correctional officer, Lt. Steven Floyd, and three other correctional employees were taken hostage at James T. Vaughn Correctional Center. One of those hostages is Officer Joshua Wilkinson, who’s here in the chamber with us today.

12 days after this horrible incident, we launched an independent review, led by former Justice Henry DuPont Ridgeley and former Judge Bill Chapman. I will receive their recommendations by June 1 and will work quickly with the leaders of the Correction Committees in the House and Senate to develop a plan of action. It will not be a report that collects dust on a shelf. Officer Wilkinson: I pledge to you that we will make real improvements and we will make them quickly.

All of these things, of course, will happen in the context of closing a $400 million budget deficit. Beyond the imperative to balance the budget, I believe we in government have a strong obligation to make sure we’re spending tax dollars wisely. That’s why I issued Executive Order #4 to create the Government Efficiency and Accountability Review Board – known as GEAR. This won’t be a one-time audit. Led by Secretary Geisenberger, this will be a long-term commitment to process improvement and efficiency in state government. The board will consider small things and big things – from eliminating out-of-date administrative requirements that cost time and money to eliminating boards or programs that have outlived their usefulness.

You can’t fix a structural budget problem without addressing the overwhelming cost of health care. Healthcare costs represent $1.6 billion dollars in a $4 billion budget — $800 million for Medicaid and $800 million in employee and retiree healthcare costs. I’ve directed Secretary Walker to design a comprehensive strategy for reducing the growth of these costs.

In addition to these efforts, I’ve proposed a budget that cuts state agency spending by 4.5%. It cuts school district budgets, lowers the Senior Property Tax Credit, and reduces funding for grant-in-aid. It raises taxes on the very largest businesses incorporated here. And it raises personal income taxes on Delawareans in a way that requires those who can afford to pay more to do so.

We have a lot of elected officials in the room today. I think I can speak for all of us when I say that none of us ran for office so we could cut our constituent’s favorite program or ask them to pay more in taxes.

I know that all of you in the General Assembly are tired of sitting here year after year talking about how we can climb out of another budget hole. Some things are beyond our control, but this one is not. It’s within our power, this June, to put ourselves on a more sustainable financial footing. My budget does that, and I look forward to working with each of you on your ideas to do the same. What I will not do is use budget gimmicks or one-time fixes to bail us out on June 30, only to be right back here next year giving the same speech.

At our budget town hall in Milford, a gentleman stood up and said to me, “As long as government’s cutting costs and doing more with less, I’m willing to pay a little bit more. But it’s got to be a fair trade.”

I heard this sentiment echoed up and down the state. Delawareans are willing to chip in and help with our budget problem, as long as their neighbors are asked to do the same. My budget is built on this principle of shared sacrifice. This isn’t going to be easy. But we’ve got a responsibility that’s more important than any temporary political pain.

It’s our responsibility to keep our state a great place to live and work and raise a family. A state ready to compete in the economy of the 21st century.

I know we all want that. And I know we all understand that means tough choices today that will pay off for our state tomorrow.

I look forward to working with each of you to get the job done right.

Thank you all. God bless you, God bless the State of Delaware, and God bless our great United States of America.


Delaware Health Officials Support ‘No Alcohol During Pregnancy’ Report

DOVER – How much alcohol is safe to drink when you’re expecting? None. Zero. Not a drop. That’s according to a report just published in the November issue of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ (AAP) Pediatrics magazine. The report identifies prenatal alcohol exposure as the leading cause of preventable birth defects and neurodevelopmental disabilities.

Drinking during pregnancy greatly increases the chances that the baby will develop a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD). Signs and symptoms of the various FASDs range from mild to severe and include a combination of physical, emotional, behavioral, and learning problems. Prenatal alcohol exposure is a frequent cause of structural or functional effects on the brain, heart, bones and spine, kidneys, vision and hearing. It’s also associated with a higher incidence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and specific learning disabilities such as difficulties with mathematics and language, information processing, memory, and problem solving.

“We wholeheartedly support the AAP’s announcement regarding no alcohol use during pregnancy,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health (DPH). “The only sure way to prevent FASDs is to completely avoid alcohol use while pregnant. This also applies to women who are trying to get conceive. Damage from prenatal alcohol exposure can occur even during the earliest weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman realizes she’s pregnant.”

“It is vital for those of us in the pediatric community to deliver this very important message,” said Dr. Catherine Zorc, President of the Delaware Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics. “We appreciate this clear guidance to help us correct misunderstandings about the risks of alcohol use during pregnancy and to educate on the importance of abstaining from alcohol use during this critical time in their child’s development.”

Some physicians have advised pregnant women that it may be acceptable to consume limited quantities of alcohol during their third trimester. However the AAP report disputes that logic. First-trimester drinking, compared to no drinking, results in 12 times the odds of giving birth to a child with FASDs. First- and second-trimester drinking increased FASDs odds 61 times, and women who drink during all trimesters were 65 more likely to have children who would develop an FASD.

“Alcoholism can make it much more difficult for a pregnant woman to quit drinking altogether,” said Michael Barbieri, Director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH). “Many women may be able to cease casual drinking easily but we must remember that alcohol addiction is still very real and very difficult to overcome. DSAMH is working closely with providers to increase the amount of addiction treatment services, including to pregnant women.”

The Department of Health and Social Services has begun a pregnancy and addiction project led by the Secretary’s office, DPH, DSAMH and the newly re-formed FASD Task Force. DHSS and the Task Force are currently reviewing available education, diagnosis, and treatment services for reproductive age women with the goal of increasing women and medical provider awareness of the dangers of alcohol and drugs during a pregnancy, and developing additional information on identifying FASD symptoms early in infants and young children. Neurocognitive and behavioral problems from prenatal alcohol exposure are lifelong, but early recognition, diagnosis and therapy for any FASD condition can improve a child’s long term prospects and overall health.

For further information about the project or the FASD Task Force, call 302-744-4704. And for tips for a healthy pregnancy and healthy baby, visit http://dethrives.com/healthy-mothers. If you’re a mother struggling with addiction, visit http://www.helpisherede.com/ for local resources.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com. Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.

About the American Academy of Pediatrics
The AAP is a professional membership organization of 64,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical sub-specialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety, and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. Its mission is to attain optimal physical, mental, and social health and well-being for all infants, children, adolescents and young adults.


New Withdrawal Management Clinic in Harrington to Open Nov. 9

New Withdrawal Management Clinic in Harrington to Open Nov. 9; First of Many Steps by Department of Health and Social Services to Increase Addiction Treatment and Recovery Services Statewide

HARRINGTON – In the first of many steps to add addiction treatment capacity statewide, a new withdrawal management clinic in Harrington, which is operated for the Department of Health and Social Services by Connections Community Support Programs, Inc., will see its first clients starting Monday, Nov. 9.

Connections’ new clinic will join DHSS’ other withdrawal management clinic, NET Kirkwood Detoxification Center, located in New Castle County. Both clinics will match withdrawal services to an individual’s needs rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach. Both programs will have 16 beds for clinically managed and medically monitored detoxification; 12 23-hour slots to allow for stabilization and observation of an individual who might not need a medically or clinically monitored withdrawal program; and ambulatory withdrawal management services, which can serve 30 to 100 individuals for 30 days in an intensive outpatient setting. The cost of these additional services is estimated to be $1.7 million in the Fiscal Year 2016 budget.

Gov. Jack Markell, who spoke at the Connections construction site in August, said the new clinic’s opening affirms the state’s commitment to build treatment capacity. “The addiction epidemic in our state is creating a tremendous demand for treatment services,” he said. “With the epidemic growing rapidly, too many people ready for treatment have been turned away because the public system has lacked capacity. This opening marks a vital step in increasing the state’s ability to treat people in need.”

Michael Barbieri, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), which oversees public treatment and recovery services, said the Connections clinic is important to families impacted by addiction. “For the people of Kent and Sussex counties, the new withdrawal management clinic will bring critical services to the community,” he said. “Thanks to the $4.45 million in new funding approved by the General Assembly and the Governor, we expect additional treatment and recovery services to be in place statewide in the coming months.”

In 2014, there were 185 suspected overdose deaths in the state, or about one every other day, with Delaware ranked 10th nationwide for overdose deaths. Through July 2015, the Medical Examiner’s Office reported 110 suspected overdose deaths. In 2014, almost 10,000 Delaware adults sought public treatment, with about one-third indicating heroin as their primary drug at the time of admission.

“We’re happy to be able to provide this facility for residents of Kent and Sussex counties who need it,” Connections President and CEO Cathy McKay said. “People suffering from addiction to alcohol or other drugs deserve a professionally run medical treatment facility at which they can begin their journeys into recovery.”

Connections’ new facility is located at 9 East St. in the Spartan Center Shopping Center in Harrington. To access services at the center when it opens on Monday, call 302-786-7800. Connections provides medication-assisted treatment for people suffering from opioid dependence at its facilities in Millsboro, Dover, Smyrna and Newark.

Barbieri said the next services expected to open in mid-December are residential treatment services, with 47 beds to be moved from a deteriorating building in Delaware City to a remodeled building at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill in Smyrna. DSAMH also expects to add these treatment and recovery services in the next few months:
• Expand the capacity of residential treatment programs throughout the state. This will be done by reconfiguring the existing program at Delaware City, transferring it to the Prickett Building at the Delaware Hospital for the Chronically Ill, and opening three 16-bed units across the state. Two of those 16-bed units will be in Kent County and will open by the end of this year or early next year, Barbieri said. The third 16-bed unit will open in April 2016 in New Castle County. When the changes are completed, the number of residential treatment beds is expected to increase from 78 to 95. (Total in new state spending will be $800,000.)
• Double the number of residential treatment beds for young people age 18 to 25 who are beginning their recoveries from addiction to heroin or other opiates from 16 to 32. Barbieri said a new residential treatment facility in Ellendale is expected to open in January, and will join a current facility in New Castle County, both of which will be operated by Gaudenzia. (Total in new state spending will be $1.15 million.)
• Double the number of sober living residential beds statewide from 60 to 120, allowing more individuals who are in the early stages of recovery to live in housing that is safe and free from alcohol and drugs, and that includes a treatment component. Many of these residential beds are expected to come online in early 2016, Barbieri said. (Total in new state spending will be $935,000.)
• Start-up costs for residential treatment programs. (One-time total in new state spending will be $815,000.)
To learn more about treatment, recovery and prevention services and supports in Delaware, go to DHSS’ one-stop website: www.HelpIsHereDE.com

For more information, contact Jill Fredel, Director of Communications, (302) 255-9047 (office) or (302) 357-7498 (cell); or Adam Taylor, Public Information Officer for Connections, (302) 304-2626

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Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.