Sojourner House, Family Links and POWER Join Forces to form Pennsylvania Treatment Alliance, Combating The Opioid Epidemic

The Pennsylvania Treatment Alliance is a recently formed collaboration between three organizations focused on combating the opioid epidemic in Western Pennsylvania, with a specific emphasis on treatment for women and families. The Alliance is a combined effort between Sojourner House, which provides compassionate, faith-based addiction recovery services to women and their children; Family Links, an organization committed to building healthy communities by strengthening individuals and families through provision of comprehensive, quality services in matters including addiction; and POWER, whose mission is to help women reclaim their lives from the disease of addiction and to reduce the incidence of addiction in future generations.

The trio of organizations has been working together for the better part of a year, since their inception in early 2018.

“Our goal is a family-centered approach,” explains Claire Smyth, the Government Relations Coordinator for the Pennsylvania Treatment Alliance. “People often look at the individual who is struggling with addiction and don’t think of them as a caregiver, or as the parent of children who are dependent on them for care.”

Pennsylvania is among the top 5 states in the United States most impacted by the opioid epidemic. So the leaders of the three organizations, Family Links President and CEO Frederick Massey Jr., POWER Executive Director Rosa Davis, and Sojourner House Executive Director Joann Cyganovich decided they needed to join forces to address this pressing issue from a local standpoint.

“The Alliance provides an opportunity for organizations that serve families who struggle with addiction, to strengthen our voices and help to shape policy to support those families in recovery,” said Cyganovich.

Rosa Davis, Executive Director of POWER; Joann Cyganovich, Executive Director of Sojourner House; Claire Smyth, Government Relations Coordinator; Frederick Massey Jr., President and CEO of Family Links

In the past year, The Alliance has collaborated with a number of different legislators, holding health events and addiction events. They have also participated in events to promote awareness, and held an open forum for the public to help gather information. They even have offered an on-site clinical screenings technician to screen anyone who walked into their facility in hopes of being screened.

From an advocacy perspective, they have also been meeting with several city council members, legislators at the Pennsylvania general assembly, congress members in Washington DC and in Pennsylvania, all in hopes of spreading awareness. The key advocacy points of focus for The Alliance are

  • Expanding Access to care, especially through telemedicine and accessibility for people who live in an area where it is difficult for them to get treatment or access a treatment site
  • Expanded treatment and housing for family centered treatment.

These visits to Harrisburg and Congress have already lead to important changes in procedure. House Resolution 6: Substance Use-Disorder Prevention That Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment For Patients and Communities Act was passed into law, allocating $8 billion to prevention and treatment programs. Key provisions in this include expanding Medicaid coverage, providing first responders with the overdose reversing drug Naloxone, and increasing access to telemedicine consultations.

With the momentum underway, The Alliance is poised and focused to continue addressing and greatly impacting the opioid crisis, which is among the most pressing challenges facing Pennsylvania today.