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Mercyhurst Public Health hosts forum on heroin use

Friday, March 20, 2015

Mercyhurst University announces a public forum to discuss the rise of heroin use in Erie County and local efforts to address the problem. “Heroin Use: A Growing Threat in Our Community” will be held Wednesday, March 25, from 7 to 9 p.m. in the Mary D’Angelo Performing Arts Center.

The forum features a panel of local law enforcement, treatment staff and prevention specialists led by Jack Ogden of the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, and Mary Kay Eisert, parent and advisor for Lake Erie Road Crew. They will be joined by panelists Kara Bennett, facility director of New Directions Healthcare; Donna Checchio, Treatment Court case manager of Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol; Jon Habursky, chief deputy of the Erie County Sherriff’s Office; and Davina Knight, director of Prevention Outreach of Coalition Pathways, Inc.

Mercyhurst’s School of Health Professions and Public Health and Coalition Pathways, Inc. are sponsors of the event, which is free and open to the public.

Heroin use has increased markedly in Erie in the last three years, according to Coalition Pathways. Despite methamphetamine, oxycontin and phenanol being major drugs of choice in Erie County, heroin is still number one. Recently, the state approved legislation that allows first responders to administer Naloxone to individuals experiencing opiate overdoses.

In addition, the local Heroin Overdose Community Awareness Task Force has established a plan of action that includes:

  1. Development of a comprehensive plan for public awareness and education.

  2. Coordination of a website that contains information on overdose prevention.

  3. Promotion of a regional hotline to prevent overdoses.

  4. Development of an overdose prevention program for inmates.

  5. Promotion of efforts to increase availability of Naloxone or Narcan for opiate overdoses.

For more information on the forum, contact Eileen Zinchiak at