Penn State Harrisburg to host two discussions on the opioid epidemic

On Jan. 10, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf declared the opioid epidemic a statewide disaster in Pennsylvania. Penn State Harrisburg faculty are dedicated to understanding this crisis and combating addiction in the state. To that end, the college will host two discussions related to the current opioid epidemic in Pennsylvania.

The School of Public Affairs will present “State of Emergency: Governor Wolf’s Disaster Declaration on the Drug Addiction and Overdose Crisis in Perspective” from 5 to 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 13, in the Olmsted Building Gallery Lounge on campus.

A panel of professionals will discuss Gov. Wolf’s disaster declaration and how opioid addiction is the number one public health and safety crisis in the state.

Speakers include: Raphael M. Barishansky, deputy secretary for health planning and assessment, Pennsylvania Department of Health; Marcus Brown, director of Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security; and Richard D. Flinn Jr., director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency (PEMA). This event is moderated by Alexander Siedschlag, professor and chair of homeland security and public health sciences in the college’s School of Public Affairs; and the discussant is Philip Kavanaugh, assistant professor of criminal justice in the School of Public Affairs.

Please email Sara Wiberg at with questions.

The event will be broadcasted as a webinar with an opportunity for online guests to participate in the question and answer session. To participate online, visit

To register for the event, visit

The School of Behavioral Sciences and Education is hosting a panel discussion on Thursday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 15, in Room C213 Olmsted, focused on how the current opioid epidemic affects the entire community, not just those that struggle with addiction.

The discussion will provide new perspectives on how the epidemic affects the community and offer valuable insights as to how everyone can work towards solutions.

Panelists will offer first-hand accounts of some of the lesser known issues gripping our communities such as strained family relationships and challenges for medical professionals including emergency room care and prescribing guidelines. A number of various efforts underway to tackle the epidemic as a community will be highlighted, and attendees will learn about how they can make a positive difference in their local communities.

The panel will be moderated by Weston Kensinger, assistant teaching professor and professor-in-charge of the health education graduate program at Penn State Harrisburg. Panelists include: Lawrence Kass, emergency medicine physician at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Elyse Rhode, a recovering addict and volunteer with the Central Pennsylvania Drug Court System; Jim Lingg, a Life Lion paramedic shift supervisor and deputy coroner for Lancaster County; Eric Doerfler, a nurse practitioner who prescribes opiates and has also treated patients with substance abuse problems; and Wendy Loranzo, founder of the I Care Foundation, which helps those struggling with the disease of addiction.

The panel discussion is made possible with support and sponsorship from the Penn State Harrisburg Chancellors Office, School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, and Office of Research and Outreach.

For more information, please contact Dr. Weston Kensinger at