Feb. 08, 2023

HARRISBURG – A grant of approximately $770,000 will help to develop the unit within UPMC Altoona for patients arriving at the hospital with mental health and substance abuse crises, according to Rep. Jim Gregory (R-Blair).

Gregory supported the hospital system as it sought grant money from the Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust. UPMC joined with Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships to obtain the funding from the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP).

“From the first days of my first campaign, my intention was to go to Harrisburg and make a difference on the issue of drug abuse and addiction as well as mental health,” Gregory said. “Teaming with UPMC’s Jan Fisher, DDAP, and Judy Rosser from Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships has allowed me to accomplish a very important goal for the people of my district. I am grateful to the governor’s administration for selecting Blair County for these funds from a very competitive field of applicants.”

UPMC Altoona is creating an Emergency Psychiatric Assessment Treatment and Healing (EMPATH) Unit within its Emergency Department. It intends to address behavioral health needs in a quieter place than the main areas of the emergency department.

“UPMC Altoona is extremely grateful for the generous support of Rep. Gregory and the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs to provide funding toward an EMPATH Unit. This unit would be located within the Emergency Department to meet the growing need for behavioral services while providing a calm and safe setting,” said Jan Fisher, president of UPMC Altoona and Beford Hospital.

Gregory, an appointee to the Opioid Misuse and Addiction Abatement Trust, predicted the unit “will make a huge impact on these issues in Blair County.”

As executive director of Blair Drug and Alcohol Partnerships, Judy Rosser has seen markedly increased demand for mental health and substance abuse resources within the hospital.

“Addressing behavioral health needs requires a multi-pronged approach, and crisis stabilization is part of the continuum of care to support this work. The unit includes persons with lived experience engaging individuals at the time of their crisis as well as medical staff trained in substance use and mental health disorders to provide stabilization of their symptoms and facilitate the next step in their care. Dedicated space to evaluate those in need and determine a course of action will be a welcome asset,” she said.

Representative Jim Gregory
80th District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: Jennifer Fitch
RepGregory.com / Facebook.com/RepJimGregory