Hospitalizations for pain medication overdoses decreased by 2.2 percent between 2016 and 2017; hospitalizations for heroin overdoses increased by 12.7 percent in the same period. However, researchers noted, that was the lowest increase in heroin-overdose hospitalizations in years.
Since neighboring Delaware County became the first county in the state to sue pharmaceutical companies over the local costs of the opioid crisis last year, several other counties have followed suit; Bucks County is the latest to file a lawsuit against Big Pharma.
Housing-first programs are controversial; many shelters and supportive housing programs require some level of sobriety before entering. But recovery requires stability, Pathways to Housing officials say, which isn't typically found on the streets or in the shelter system.
In less than a week, the city will close the encampments under the Kensington Avenue and Tulip Street train bridges, tackling the problem with a force they have never before displayed: more outreach workers, more shelter beds in the neighborhood, quicker access to treatment.
City officials say they'll engage in "intensive, daily outreach" to the people in the camps - but also post notices warning the people who live there that they have 30 days to clear the sidewalks. After that, police will clear the camps.
On Tuesday night, when city health officials arrive in the neighborhood for a community meeting on the epidemic, they'll come armed with those dire statistics, and information on the city's 18-point plan to fight the crisis. But they won't have an answer to the question that's roiled the neighborhood since the plan was announced in January: Will Kensington host the city's first safe-injection site?
Aubrey Whelan is a staff writer assigned to the enterprise team. Since joining the Inquirer in 2012, she has covered crime in Philadelphia and everything in Chester County.