Transgender woman breaks barrier to serve as Pa. physician general

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     Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's newly appointed  physician general, says the abuse of opioids is a major public health issue.(Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Health)

    Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania's newly appointed physician general, says the abuse of opioids is a major public health issue.(Image courtesy of Pennsylvania Department of Health)

    History was made last month in Harrisburg when Pennsylvania’s Senate confirmed Dr. Rachel Levine as the state’s physician general. She is the first transgender person appointed to the governor’s cabinet.

    She will advise Gov. Tom Wolf and Secretary of Health Karen Murphy on medical and health matters. Levine sat down to talk about the abuse of opioids, such as heroin, which she sees as a major public health issue.

    “We are losing approximately seven people a day in Pennsylvania, at least, to overdoses,” Levine said. The death rate “from overdoses is greater than motor vehicle deaths at the present time.”

    Levine supports legislation passed last year that allows first responders and family members to carry naloxone – also known as Narcan – which reverses the effect of the drugs and can save lives in the event of an overdose.

    “We have been working very closely with the Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs on raising money for naloxone and distributing it to Pennsylvania State Police, municipal police departments, and eventually fire and EMS,” Levine said, adding that family members may obtain the drug from a physician if a family member is addicted to opioids.

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