Congressman Riggleman Visits UVA Hospital to Bring Attention to Opioid Crisis in 5th District
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Congressman Denver Riggleman is touring the University of Virginia Hospital Pain Clinic to bring attention to the opioid crisis in the 5th District.
Riggleman was part of a roundtable discussion of how UVA Health System changes patient care in response to the issue. For Congressman Riggleman, the opioid crisis hits close to home. His family has been affected by the issue, as well as portions of the 5th District.
The congressman met with a collection of University of Virginia doctors to see what is working and what's not from the federal level. The hospital has a special recovery program for thoracic surgery patients to reduce opioid dependency.
"My job is to find out where the gaps are and identify what we can do to help,” said Riggleman. "We're trying to make sure we try to look at this problem holistically. It's not just law enforcement. It's not just filing illicit finance and trying to stop those types of individuals and cut the head off the snake of those doing it but it's also looking at rehabilitation."
Riggleman said he's introduced a series of bills on Capitol Hill to deal with the issue. He states the focus should be on rehabilitation.
"What we're trying to do is we're trying to make sure we try to look at this problem holistically. It's not just law enforcement. It's not just filing illicit finance and trying to stop those types of individuals and cut the head off the snake of those doing it but it's also looking at rehabilitation,” said Riggleman.
Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Robert Tracci was pleased with a state bill that sits on Governor Ralph Northam's desk. The bill would create a state felony murder charge to use against dealers.
"This bill would make it much easier for commonwealth's attorneys to bring felony murder charges against those who distribute that poison in our community,” said Tracci. "We have to be smart about targeting people who are distributing these products. We can't incarcerate our way out of this problem."
Riggleman noted that the southern portion of the 5th District faces the full effect of the crisis.
More than 47,000 people died in the United States in 2017 due to an opioid overdose. Riggleman said that number will only continue to grow.
On Monday, Riggleman wanted to focus on how to make it easier to get access to programs the federal government rolled out to help the issue in August 2018.