Pennsylvania bill would allow hospitals to provide as many detox beds as they see fit

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Opioid related hospitalizations are on the rise in Central Pennsylvania.

In response, some lawmakers want health care centers to be able to provide as many detoxification beds as they see fit.

Those legislators want more beds and resources for those struggling with addiction. They say Pennsylvania is slow to allow hospitals the flexibility to allocate resources for addicts.

"It hits all socioeconomic classes. It doesn't mater if you're rich or you're poor, and because of that, there is really an increased need for that across the board," said Representative Bryan Cutler. He's talking about the opioid epidemic's impact on health care facilities in Pennsylvania.

He says there aren't enough detox beds for people addicted to drugs or alcohol, adding that it is important to give centers the option to allocate their resources.

"Unfortunately, what happens now, is that while we can save patients from an overdose through NARCAN or other opiod reversals, we don't have the treatment beds available to help them kick their habits," said Rep. Cutler.

House Bill 118 would give hospitals and health care facilities the option to change their beds, rooms, and floors so they can detox patients, free to do so without a cost from the state to change code.

A medical director from York Memorial Hospital says having detox beds is important.

"A big need. We could probably convert all hospital beds here, and there would still be a bigger need," said Dr. Daniel Hornyak. He's the Chairman and Medical Director for the Emergency Department at Memorial Hospital in York.

What's even more important to Dr. Hornyak is long-term recovery, beyond the initial hospital stay.

"If you don't address the outpatient issue when the patient goes home - how they interact with their family members, their environment, do they have a safe place to go, why are they using?"

One York County woman says she supports the bill.

"It's in the news how many people are dying from overdoses, addiction -- so there's obviously a real need. So I think it's important to free up the beds and get them some help," said Laura Lewicki of Jacobus.

Right now, there may be empty beds in a hospital for a patient to detox, but state code limits the hospital from freely changing resources. The bill passed in the House; now, it's up for discussion in the Senate.