Gov. McMaster calls statewide health emergency following 600+ op - FOX Carolina 21

Gov. McMaster calls statewide health emergency following 600+ opioid deaths

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(file photo) (file photo)

Governor Henry McMaster held a news conference Monday morning, declaring a statewide health emergency. 

The governor was surrounded by state officials, including Greenville Representative Eric Beddingfield when he addressed an epidemic hitting the nation, including South Carolina. 

"There's a silent hurricane going on in our state that has hit us, and it's getting worse," he said. "And it hits us every year. It's called the opioid crisis."

McMaster said in 2016, 616 people died due to opioids. These are number he is hoping to bring down by overseeing prescriptions. He has directed state health officials and doctors to limit the amount of opioids they prescribe. Patients under a state health care plan will now walk away from their doctor's office with a prescription meant for a week. 

The governor said patients would be prescribed 60 to 90 pills at a time, which he said is not necessary. McMaster said he has created an "Opioid Emergency Response Team," consisting of law enforcement, health care professionals and more. The team will meet every month for the next six months. 

We spoke to Greenville Family Partnership about the new changes. The organization said these directions are a good start, but they will not cure the problem. 

"These are a few steps in the right direction but we need more toward education and prevention," Phillip Clark, associate director said. 

Clark said it is important to focus on parents and children, educating them about the dangers of these pills before the thought of taking them is even entertained. 

"We know how to prevent heart disease, we know how to prevent diabetes, you can learn how to prevent addiction and that starts with your child at a very young age," Clark said.

He added there is a negative stigma surrounding addiction and until we treat it like a disease it will be very difficult to cure.

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