AG: Berks 'Has its act together' in fighting opioid crisis


Doctors, drug counselors and others from West Reading-based Tower Health surrounded Pennsylvania's top law enforcement officer in a forum on veterans and opioids.

Reading Hospital officials shared with Attorney General Josh Shapiro the steps they've taken to combat the crisis, including their "warm handoff program" and their neonatal nursery that allows mothers addicted to opioids to be with their newborns, rather than being separated.

"We know that veterans are suffering just as many are, we have a large veteran population here," Shapiro told WFMZ's Jim Vasil. "What I learned today was Berks County has its act together."

Shapiro has been at war with big pharma, filing a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin. He says an investigation found Purdue pushed OxyContin specifically on veterans and seniors. Shapiro said 12 Pennsylvanians die every day from the opioid crisis.

"Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, you will be hit by an issue like this and you need to make sure you're addressing it," said U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, a Democrat who represents Reading and some of the city's surrounding suburbs.

Officials at Reading Hospital said four years ago, they'd see three to five overdose cases a day. They said they're happy with the direction those cases are trending now.

"Nothing's going to get fixed by Tower alone or by the government alone or by the police force alone," said Dr. Charles Barbera, chair of Reading Hospital's emergency department. "It all needs to work together. The more we can have these forums to communicate openly is the closer we are to our goal."