Independence Blue Cross Foundation launches STOP Initiative to address growing opioid crisis

PHILADELPHIA, Aug. 16, 2016 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Independence Blue Cross Foundation (Foundation) today announced the Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention (STOP) Initiative, an effort to convene community health providers and resources to increase access to effective prevention and treatment for those struggling with opioid abuse.

STOP kicked off today with a Forum, hosted jointly by the Foundation and the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC), attended by more than 80 of the Foundation's Blue Safety Net-supported community health centers and community based organizations in the region. The Forum is focused on achieving a better understanding of effective and emerging community-based strategies for opioid prevention and treatment, and sharing best practices among health centers, community and addiction treatment organizations. PHMC is one of six organizations in Pennsylvania to receive a Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse Expansion award to provide support for the improvement and expansion of substance abuse services with a focus on medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.

STOP responds to an alarming increase in prescription drug abuse initiation, opioid use and related deaths. Since 2009, Philadelphia has seen a 43 percent increase in drug-related overdose deaths, according to a 2016 DEA report.

"The collaboration of community health centers and community based organizations is essential to solving this public health issue in our region," said Foundation president Lorina Marshall-Blake. "We have some incredible partners who are working towards our shared goals of increasing awareness of prescription drug take-back programs, implementing prescription drug monitoring programs, and providing support around this deep-seated issue that affects virtually every person in our region to some degree."

PHMC's expertise in the area of prevention, intervention and treatment of substance abuse is recognized locally, regionally and nationally. "The partnership is critical to tackling this growing issue in our city," said Dr. Richard J. Cohen, PHMC president and CEO. "We're proud to work collaboratively with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation to come up with solutions that will improve the overall public health Philadelphia."
The Foundation's STOP Initiative also includes support around educating youth and community members about prescription drug and opioid use.
"These efforts are a starting point for the Foundation to begin to address what we know is one of our nation's most pressing public health issues," continued Marshall-Blake. "We will continue to look for other ways to partner with community organizations to help reduce prescription drug and opioid use initiation and dependence."

The Foundation has a long-standing commitment to investing in community health centers. In 2015, it awarded grants to 44 non-profit, private community health centers that provide health services in medically underserved areas in southeastern Pennsylvania.

About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation:
The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The Foundation targets the following areas of impact:

  • Securing the Blue Safety Net: Supporting private, nonprofit community health center clinics that provide access to quality, affordable health care in medically underserved areas.
  • Bolstering the Health Care Workforce: Strengthening the nursing, primary care, and allied health workforce through education, career development, and research.
  • Addressing Health Priorities: Collaborating with wellness partners to tackle the region's most pressing health challenges; currently combating the obesity epidemic through the IBC Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative.
  • Building Healthier communities: Partnering with community leaders and programs to address community health and wellness needs.

Learn more by visiting our website: www.ibxfoundation.org. Connect with the Independence Blue Cross Foundation on Twitter at @ibxfdn.

About PHMC:
Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) is a nonprofit public health institute that creates and sustains healthier communities. PHMC uses best practices and evidence-based guidelines to improve community health through direct service, partnership, innovation, policy, research, technical assistance and a prepared workforce. PHMC has served the region since 1972

CONTACT: Ruth Stoolman Independence Blue Cross Ruth.stoolman@ibx.com 215-241-4807 (office) 215-667-9537 (cell

Source:Independence Blue Cross Foundation