Philadelphia, PA — At an opioid crisis update event hosted at Independence Blue Cross (Independence) with Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Independence president and CEO Daniel J. Hilferty announced a new initiative to fight the stigma of addiction. The initiative pairs the Independence Blue Cross Foundation with the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University for a multi-media public awareness campaign to share stories of addiction and recovery to reduce the shame often associated with opioid abuse. The initiative will support the development and launch of a campaign to tell real stories of recovery, giving a face and voice to those affected by the crisis. The campaign will also explore the effect of substance abuse on individuals, families and the community.
Gov. Wolf, Hilferty, and Doug Tieman, president and CEO of Caron Treatment Centers, provided updates on what is being done to fight this crisis on various fronts. Almost 1,700 people in southeastern Pennsylvania died in 2016 from an opioid overdose. Philadelphia alone is on track for 1,200 overdose deaths this year, 300 more than last year.
“The story of the opiate crisis in the Philadelphia region, much like the rest of the country, continues to be told through staggering statistics like these,’ said Hilferty. “However, these numbers fail to capture the devastating effect of opiate addiction on individuals, family members, employers, and communities. Through this project, we hope those suffering from addiction will feel more empowered to ask for help.”
Glenn Sterner, a Post-Doctoral Scholar in the Justice Center for Research at Penn State University, will lead a team of Penn State University researchers and Independence Blue Cross Foundation professionals in this project to collect, chronicle, and share individual narratives about the opiate crisis in southeastern Pennsylvania. The stories will later be shared at community gatherings, along with in-depth discussions about the stigma associated with opioid addiction. Local resources will be provided for those seeking treatment.
Last year, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation launched STOP (Supporting Treatment and Overdose Prevention). an initiative to increase awareness and access to effective community-based opioid treatment and prevention.
About the Independence Blue Cross Foundation:
The Independence Blue Cross Foundation is a charitable, private foundation, whose mission is leading solutions for a healthier community. The Foundation targets the following areas of impact:
- Securing the Blue Safety Net: Supporting private, nonprofit community health center clinics that provide access to quality, affordable health care in medically underserved areas.
- Bolstering the Health Care Workforce: Strengthening the nursing, primary care, and allied health workforce through education, career development, and research.
- Addressing Health Priorities: Collaborating with wellness partners to tackle the region’s most pressing health challenges; currently combating the obesity epidemic through the IBC Foundation Healthy Futures Initiative.
- Building healthy communities: Partnering with community leaders and programs to address community health and wellness needs.
About Independence Blue Cross
Independence Blue Cross is the leading health insurance organization in southeastern Pennsylvania. With our affiliates, we serve more than 8.5 million people in 24 states and Washington, D.C., including more than 2.5 million in the region. For nearly 80 years, we have been enhancing the health and wellness of the people and communities we serve by delivering innovative and competitively priced health care products and services; pioneering new ways to reward doctors, hospitals, and other health care professionals for coordinated, quality care; and supporting programs and events that promote wellness.
Independence Blue Cross is a subsidiary of Independence Health Group, Inc. — independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, serving the health insurance needs of Philadelphia and southeastern Pennsylvania.