Community summit on opioid abuse set for Friday

Speakers include Berks DA, Reading Health doctors

WEST READING, Pa. - Reading Health System is inviting the Berks County community to learn more about the treatment of heroin and opioid addiction.

The system, designated one of Pennsylvania's 45 Centers of Excellence (COE), will host a community summit on Friday from 8 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. in the Thun/Janssen Auditorim at Reading Hospital in West Reading.

Those in attendance will learn more about how the COE will coordinate treatment for addiction, as well as other health challenges that may be affecting a substance abuser, officials said.

Speakers will include Desha Dickson, Reading Health System's director of community health and engagement; Berks County District Attorney John Adams; Dr. Charles Barbera, chairman of Reading Hospital's Department of Emergency Medicine; and Dr. William Santoro; chief of the hospital's Section of Addiction Medicine.

Anyone interested in attending the summit can register by calling 484-628-0360 or by emailing

The Reading Health System has attracted the attention of state officials for its efforts in dealing with the addiction crisis.

Last week, Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's physician general, and Jennifer Smith, the state's acting secretary of drug and alcohol programs, were on hand for an event to help launch the new "warm handoff" program.

Reading Hospital now has addiction experts on hand to help people who go to the emergency room with drug-related problems and addictions. Those experts will help drug users seek treatment.

"And we have the ability with our partners at TASC [Treatment Access and Services Center] to have a recovery specialist meet with that person 24/7 and get them into the treatment that they need," Barbera said.

Reading Hospital said it sees about one to three overdose cases each day.

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