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Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:11:14 10:32:55

STAFF PHOTOS/BROOKE WILLIAMS Director of Human Services in Wyoming County Mike Donahue provides introductions at the final Hope Coalition meeting of 2019.

Photo: N/A, License: N/A, Created: 2019:11:14 10:35:45

Hope Coalition members listen as subcommittees report their 2020 goals.

The Wyoming County Hope Coalition is celebrating another year in the books.

Formed in 2017, the coalition brings together medical providers, elected officials, law enforcement and others with the shared goal of combating the opioid crisis in the county.

Wyoming County Director of Human Services Mike Donahue, who helps lead the coalition, was pleased to see a few new faces at its final meeting of 2019 on Nov. 14.

“We have had a pretty good year, and when I say ‘we,’ that’s an absolute we,” Donahue said.

In his introductions, he reminded the coalition of its goal to establish the best way to help each individual suffering from substance use disorder. With the disease not going anywhere, it’s important to emphasize that treatment works, he said.

“This disease will take their lives,” he said. “It has disrupted their lives and it has disrupted this entire community.”

Additionally, he said the coalition is “in the business of restoring hope” while also encouraging open dialogue.

“If we’re going to be open, we have to allow two-way conversations,” he said.

Before subcommittees broke off to discuss goals for 2020, Donahue reviewed some of the Hope Coalition’s major accomplishments this year, beginning with the Wyoming County Recovery Celebration held at the county courthouse in September.

Also in September, Wyoming County was represented at Recovery Advocacy Day in Harrisburg, where local advocate John Fabiseski spoke.

Hope Coalition members were present at the Pennsylvania Recovery Organizations Alliance Leadership in Recovery Dinner this month, and the coalition has updated its strategic plan.

Donahue also mentioned the Wyoming County District Attorney’s office receiving a $600,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat opioid addiction as another feat in the county.

Moving forward, the prevention/community awareness subcommittee plans to wrap up its poster contest with the Tunkhannock Area STEM Academy by displaying the winning poster on a billboard.

The subcommittee reported that the most recent Drug Take Back Day in Wyoming County was a success, with 178 pounds of prescription drugs collected for disposal.

The subcommittee also discussed planning a community awareness panel this spring.

Three objectives for 2020 were outlined in the treatment subcommittee.

This includes seeing which services the Wyoming County Correctional Facility is lacking for inmates with SUD and figuring out how to supplement them, as well as promoting counseling for not only individuals with SUD, but their families, as it’s a “family disease.”

“Our goal is to keep families intact in Wyoming County,” Director of Drug/Alcohol Programs at the Children’s Service Center Jessy Miller said.

Barb Landon with Families Helping Families and Wyoming County CARES noted that some family members have a “this is not my problem” attitude.

“It’s a mindset I’ve seen in this county over and over again that we need to overcome,” she said.

The coalition has reached a goal of increasing the number of certified recovery specialists in the county, and now the subcommittee hopes to figure out the best way to put them to work.

“The workers are here, the manpower is here, now we just have to figure out how to utilize them most effectively,” Miller said.

Arianne Scheller, clinical director of Endless Mountains Extended Care, said many patients who are treated for SUD often get dual-diagnosed with mental health issues, and providers need to ensure that both sides of the diagnosis are addressed.

With a lot to discuss, the treatment subcommittee plans to meet again separately.

The recovery subcommittee has set a tentative date of Sept. 19, 2020 for the next Wyoming County Recovery Celebration.

At this time, the coordination subcommittee’s plans are to support efforts in the other subcommittees.

“This has been a successful year for the coalition, and with people talking like this, it’s not done yet,” Donahue said.

The Hope Coalition will hold its first meeting

of 2020 on Jan. 9 in the Dietrich Theater.