Erie – The Esper Treatment Center in the City of Erie now has a new designation as a Commonwealth Center of Excellence (COE) in the fight against heroin and opioid addiction thanks to an award announced yesterday by the Department of Human Services and the Wolf administration.

Senator Sean D. Wiley (D-Erie) supported the efforts of the Esper Treatment Center in securing the award and was pleased by the designation. “Too many families in our community are suffering from the loss of a loved one to this illness. The Esper Treatment Center has a record of providing the highest level of quality care and this designation will allow for further collaboration and access to care.”

The COE will coordinate care for people covered by Medicaid and rather than focusing just on the addiction, the treatment modality will include a patient-centered approach to care via team-based approach through the integration of behavioral health and primary care.

Jennifer Esper, Project Director of the Esper Treatment Center, is “beyond excited to be named as a Center of Excellence. This will have such a positive effect on the community in offering support and guidance from the beginning of treatment throughout its course. We hope that this will encourage those that suffer from Opioid dependence to seek help and start on the road to recovery.”

THE COE will act as a hub in providing the nexus of care which may include treatment of the physical symptoms as well as behavioral therapies and links to medicated assisted treatment as necessary. The Commonwealth Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP) will provide licensure for the COEs as providers that administer one of the three FDA-approved medications.

David Sanner, Director of the Erie County Office of Drug and Alcohol Abuse added, “This is truly a community and cooperative response to the opiate epidemic in our community and brings together the medical and behavioral health systems in a way that will have a longstanding and powerful positive impact in Erie County.”

The Department of Human Services anticipates a start date of October 1st for the twenty Centers of Excellence across the Commonwealth.

A complete list of the COEs can be found here: