ALTOONA, PA – Pyramid Healthcare hosted Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Lehigh County District Attorney Jim Martin for a discussion and a media briefing at their detoxification and residential behavioral healthcare treatment program for women in Catasauqua, PA on Monday, November 29, 2021.
Pyramid Healthcare clinical and executive staff presented recommendations to Attorney General Josh Shapiro for the prioritization and allocation of the over $1 billion Pennsylvania will receive of which $232 million will be distributed to local and county governments in 2022 from the opioid settlement that AG Shapiro participated in negotiating.
Pyramid Healthcare identified a severe staff shortage as the primary barrier to providing treatment for many individuals seeking substance use or mental health treatment across Pennsylvania. The provision of ancillary services such as transportation and childcare, payer reimbursement and staff compensation and training are additional, daily challenges that have only intensified for clients during the pandemic that Pyramid Healthcare seeks to address with the settlement funds.
Attorney General Shapiro expressed that the opioid settlement monies received by Pennsylvania need to be allocated to services related to substance use and mental health treatment including training programs, increased compensation for staff and improved reimbursement at the state and local levels. “COVID has made the need more significant when it comes to helping those who are battling the disease of addiction, and COVID has complicated driving out those services. Now, more than ever, we need resources to help,” Shapiro said.
“Staff shortages have been the number one barrier to treatment for Pyramid Healthcare. As the demand for withdrawal management and detox, residential and outpatient increases, behavioral health providers in general and Pyramid Healthcare in particular lack the appropriate levels of staff to meet the needs of the population in the communities that we serve,” stated Sarah Deutchman, Executive Vice President of Operations for Pyramid Healthcare.
The Catasauqua, PA program Attorney General Shapiro visited is a 47-bed detoxification and residential substance use and mental health treatment program that provides specialized substance use and trauma treatment and support for women who are often victims of sex trafficking.