Bellevue Bulletin 07/26/2019: Opioid-related death tolls rise; Hahnemann Hospital; and La Colombe’s community service
Happy Friday and welcome back to your weekly update by Bellevue!
In Philadelphia, good news comes as we learn that opioid related deaths in the neighborhoods of Kensington, Harrowgate, and Port Richmond have seen a 23% drop in deaths over the past year – and overdoses across the state of Pennsylvania have dropped, too. But, at the current rate, Pennsylvania is still losing 12 people a day opioid-related deaths. But, even as some communities are seeing a decline in instances, others are seeing a rise. Overdoses in the 19148 zip code in South Philadelphia increased by 20%, from 44 to 53 deaths between 2017 and 2018. Many neighborhoods in Philly, including South Philadelphia, are struggling with adequate access to harm reduction services. Joseph Benitez, executive director of Prevention Point, a public health organization for people in addiction based in Kensington, has said that stigma still keeps many from seeking treatment and harm reduction services. “We have to start talking about this out loud, and tackling the stigma that surrounds this disease — so people feel safe to come in and ask for help,” he told The Philadelphia Inquirer.
If you’ve been following PA school district news, you might have heard about the Wyoming Valley West school district that sent out a letter warning parents behind on lunch bills that they would be subject to Dependency Court – and their children sent to foster care. The school has since apologized in a post on the district’s website, after the Superintendent of Wyoming Valley West claimed that the letter never went through to the school board before being sent. Shorty after, Todd Carmichael, chief executive of the Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, offered to pay off the $22,000 in overdue lunch bills to the district, and the board has accepted the donation. They plan to funnel it through the district’s nonprofit foundation. Carmichael plans to have all parents that received the school district’s initial letter contacted and told that their debt has been paid off.
In the wake of the announcement of the closure of Hahnemann University Hospital, the organizations more than 2,500 employees have been scrambling in search of new jobs as the hospital shuts its doors. While organizations are always in search of nurses, support staffers in housekeeping or dietary services are disgruntled at the lack of employers that were present at the Hire Hahnemann fair at the Convention Center this past week. Some staffers who have been employed at Hahnemann for over a decade have salaries close to $20-$30 an hour – and many other employers can’t offer to go near that rate. According to WHYY Chris Woods, executive vice president of the union that serves Hahnemann, is holding onto hope that Hahnemann will keep its doors open. Until then, he’s “bargaining to get as many benefits as possible for his members”. He told WHYY that, “When you’re talking about an employer who’s filing for bankruptcy, I don’t know how successful we will be in being able to get those folks to pay some severance, but that doesn’t mean we’re not going to try.”
City Council is still out for the summer, so that’s all for this week! Be sure to follow us on twitter @PhillyAdvocates for more.