DiZoglio Awarded by Massachusetts Nurses

From left to right, Donna Kelly-Williams, RN and President of the MNA, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and Karen Coughlin, RN and Vice President of the MNA.

From left to right, Donna Kelly-Williams, RN and President of the MNA, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and Karen Coughlin, RN and Vice President of the MNA.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) has been named recipient of the Massachusetts Nurses Association (MNA)’s 2016 Legislative Advocacy Award.

The MNA’s Legislative Advocacy Award is presented to a state legislator in Massachusetts who has worked alongside the organization in its efforts to improve availability of health care services, promote the health and safety of nurses and foster high standards of nursing practice, education and research.

During the current legislative session, DiZoglio served as co-sponsor for legislation to set a new limit on the number of patients assigned to a nurse at one time, designed to improve public safety and address the increased risk of complications, medical errors and readmissions that can result from nurses having too many patients.

“I am truly honored and humbled to accept the MNA’s 2016 Legislative Advocacy Award,” said DiZoglio. “As the daughter of a nurse, I have seen firsthand the challenges these men and women face on a day-to-day basis as they work to care for those battling cancer, terminal illness, mental illness, injuries and more. It is imperative that their voices continue to be heard loud and clear on Beacon Hill. They are a truly invaluable organization and I am firmly committed to working alongside the MNA over the years to come.”

Founded in 1903, the MNA is today the largest professional association of registered nurses and health professionals in Massachusetts and third-largest in the nation, representing more than 23,000 members.

DiZoglio Bill to Ensure Safety of Elderly and Disabled in Public Housing Advances

The state legislature’s Joint Committee on Housing has advanced legislation, filed by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), to create a task force to improve the safety of elderly and disabled persons living in public housing.

In January of last year, three North Andover seniors, Walter Hamilton, 78, George Kettinger, Jr., 79, and Francis Kort, 68, were murdered in their public housing complex at Foulds Terrace. In response to the tragedy, at the beginning of the legislative session, DiZoglio filed legislation, House Bill 1094, An Act establishing a task force on elderly and disabled persons residing in public housing.

The task force outlined in the legislation would advise the Secretaries of Housing and Economic Development and Health and Human Services on best practices to ensure the safety and welfare of the elderly and disabled in public housing, including investigating efforts to maximize overall facility and individual apartment safety and security.
DiZoglio’s bill received endorsements from the North Andover and Haverhill Housing Authorities, as well as Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley, which presented testimony at the legislation’s public hearing held last summer before the committee.

“This legislation marks the first step in what I hope to be a forceful, comprehensive effort by citizens, not only in North Andover but across the Commonwealth, to protect our seniors and disabled persons residing in public housing,” said DiZoglio. “We can and must do better to protect the safety and welfare of this vulnerable population and I look forward to advocating over the days and weeks to come in further advancing this bill.”

“I am very pleased to see Representative DiZoglio’s hard working in sponsoring in crafting this bill move to an important next step,” said Rosanne DiStefano, Executive Director of Elder Services of the Merrimack Valley. “The Representative took a thoughtful approach and spent countless hours in meeting with constituents. We all need to ensure that the sad and unfortunate incident that occurred in North Andover doesn’t happen again anywhere and this task force is the first step to get to this peace of mind.”

“Representative DiZoglio’s housing legislation is so vitally important to the health and welfare of all persons living in housing,” said Cathy Hoog, Executive Director of the North Andover Housing Authority. “If passed, this task force could advise on best practices and advocate for supportive services funding in the housing authority industry. Mixed populations in any close living environment is challenging. A difference can be made with supportive services that provide those in need with continued care and support to maintain the healthiest life possible.”

“This can be an easy issue to overlook when it’s not in the news anymore, but thanks to Rep. DiZoglio, our residents will be much safer and have the peace of mind that comes from feeling much safer in their homes,” said Joseph A. Hart, Executive Director, Haverhill Housing Authority.

Read Across America Day at Kittredge Elementary

Kittredge 2016

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) and Governor Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott) visited North Andover’s Kittredge Elementary School on Wednesday, March 2 in honor of Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), promotes literacy across grades and celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss.

Last summer, DiZoglio hosted third grade students from Kittredge for a visit to the State House and provided the students with the opportunity to meet with Gov. Baker in his office. During their meet-and-greet, the Governor expressed interest in visiting Kittredge if the school again attained Level 1 status, which, for the fifth year in a row, Kittredge accomplished.

Kittredge 2016 5

“The Kittredge School has graciously invited me to join them for Read Across America Day every year during my time as State Representative and it has been an absolute pleasure to interact with the kids and teachers each time,” said DiZoglio. “When they reached out to me about coordinating a visit alongside Governor Baker, I was happy to do so. As a member of the Education Committee, I have strongly advocated for increased funding for Chapter 70 and special education in the State Budget, which greatly impacts North Andover Public Schools and has actually helped to save the media centers from having to close. Many of us remember that in 2013, North Andover Public Schools nearly had to close down their school libraries for lack of funding. I hope the importance of adequately funding school districts in the region to ensure our youth continue to strongly grasp reading concepts and skills in their education was highlighted to the Governor during his visit.”

St. Paddy’s Day Luncheon at North Andover Senior Center

Diana St Paddys 2

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) will again this year host the St. Paddy’s Day luncheon at the North Andover Senior Center.

The event, to take place on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, will begin at noon and feature a traditional holiday meal of corn beef and cabbage, catered by Borelli’s Italian Deli in Methuen.

Tickets, to go on sale February 29 at the senior center, will be $7 each and limited to the first 60 North Andover seniors.

For more information, call the senior center at 978-688-9560.

Gov. Baker, Rep. DiZoglio to Celebrate Read Across America Day at Kittredge

Rep. DiZoglio celebrating Read Across America with Kittredge in 2015

Rep. DiZoglio celebrating Read Across America with Kittredge in 2015

Governor Charlie Baker (R-Swampscott) and State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) will visit North Andover’s Kittredge Elementary School on Wednesday, March 2 in honor of Read Across America Day.

Read Across America Day, sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA), promotes literacy across grades and celebrates the birthday of Dr. Seuss. In honor of the occasion, DiZoglio and Baker will read to Kittredge students at 9am and 10am respectively.

“Occasions like these are so important in working to ensure our youth strongly grasp reading concepts and skills in their education,” said DiZoglio. “I look forward to joining Governor Baker for what will undoubtedly be an amazing morning.”

Four DiZoglio Amendments Adopted into House Opioid Bill

Included in comprehensive House legislation to address opioid addiction in the Commonwealth were four amendments sponsored by State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).

The bill, which passed the Massachusetts House of Representatives with unanimous and bipartisan support, adopted amendments sponsored by DiZoglio pertaining to the advertising of opiates, cautionary statements on opiate medications, updating the Commonwealth’s Protective Custody Law and additional funding to address substance abuse in hard-hit communities.

Under the legislation, the Commonwealth’s Department of Public Health (DPH) will be directed to regulate the advertising of opiates, benzos and narcotics by medical practitioners in their offices.

“Physicians often display advertisements in their offices promoting opiate painkillers,” said DiZoglio. “These advertisements are provided by pharmaceutical companies like Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin manufacturer which came under fire in recent years for misleading doctors and the public about their drug’s risk of addiction.”

DPH is also directed under another DiZoglio amendment to come up with updated cautionary statements for opioid medications, to be included in all opioid prescription packaging.

“The literature will cover the addictive properties of opiates, risk of dependency and addiction, risk of heroin addiction and abuse, misuses by adults and children, addiction support and treatment resources and the telephone helpline operated by the Bureau of Substance Abuse Services,” said DiZoglio.

The bill also includes a DiZoglio amendment updating the Commonwealth’s Protective Custody Law, which currently allows officers to take persons intoxicated with alcohol to the point of being incapacitated into custody for a period of no more than 12 hours to allow the individuals to regain sobriety. An officer brings the inebriated person home, to the hospital or to the police station until sobriety is met or the 12-hour period is reached.

“This amendment allows the definition of ‘incapacitated’ under the provisions of the law to be expanded to those high on controlled substances, including opiates,” said DiZoglio. “By doing so, more overdoses will be prevented and officers will have an important new tool as they continue to confront this heartbreaking opioid epidemic.”

“I would like to applaud Representative DiZoglio for championing this cause and helping to keep our communities safe,” said Methuen Police Chief Joseph Solomon. “This change in the Protective Custody Law will significantly aid first responders in their abilities to save lives and help those under the influence of opioids or other drugs.”

Also included in the legislation is an expansion of the Commonwealth’s Safe and Successful Youth Initiative (SSYI) grants.

“SSYI has proven an immensely effective tool in recent years in reducing youth violence across Massachusetts,” said DiZoglio. “Cities are provided funding through the program to implement intervention strategies in partnership with local organizations, training and education programs. Under this amendment, communities will now be able to use SSYI funding toward addressing local substance abuse issues.”

The House and Senate will now move into negotiations on a final bill to be agreed upon by both legislative chambers.

House Opioid Legislation Includes DiZoglio Bill to Limit Prescriptions to Children

DiZoglio Legislation to Expand Substance Abuse Education in Schools Also Included

DiZoglio Legislation to Expand Substance Abuse Education in Schools Also Included

Included in legislation to be introduced before the Massachusetts House of Representatives to address the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic are two proposals from State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), including limiting the prescription of opioids to children and expanding substance abuse education in Massachusetts public schools.

The legislation, which is expected to be considered by the House in January, would for the first time limit patients prescribed opioids to a seven-day supply and persons admitted to the emergency room due to an apparent drug overdose would be required to undergo a substance abuse evaluation within 24 hours.

Under the bill, children are only allowed a seven-day opioid prescription, whether for the first time or not, unless there are extreme circumstances such as cancer or terminal illness.

The inclusion of this measure comes on the heels of legislation filed by DiZoglio, House Bill 3811, to regulate the prescription of the opioid OxyContin to children. DiZoglio’s bill came in response to the FDA’s recent approval of the powerful painkiller, known in recent years for its frequent abuse, for children as young as 11.

“The legislation I filed earlier this year would have prohibited the prescribing of OxyContin to children,” said DiZoglio. “Unfortunately, such a ban would not pass through federal regulations. As a state, we are only able to do so much, as former Governor Deval Patrick found in his ordering of a ban on the opioid Zohydro in 2014, which was overturned by the U.S. District Court. I would like to see much stronger regulations but this marks a step in the right direction. Right now, there are no limitations in Massachusetts on prescription opioids. While we had to make some concessions through the committee process, the House legislation does expand limitations beyond OxyContin to all opioids and I am very pleased with that. I am committed to working with the Committee to make further improvements throughout the process.”

Since the filing of the DiZoglio bill, a bipartisan group of federal legislators, including U.S. Senators Edward Markey (D-MA), Kelly Ayotte, (R-NH) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), as well as Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and Seth Moulton (D-MA), have called on the FDA to reconsider their decision to allow the prescribing of such a powerful opioid to children.

A study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that in 2014, nearly 1 in 30 high school seniors had abused OxyContin and 1 in 20 had abused Vicodin. In 2009, the Massachusetts OxyContin and Heroin Commission found that in 2007 alone there were 4,544 substance abuse treatment admissions in Massachusetts for persons age 15 to 19. The commission noted the second most-common source for obtaining prescription opioids was through a physician.

“Each day, according to the American Society of Addiction Medicine, 2,500 youth in the United States abuse a prescription pain reliever for the first time,” said DiZoglio. “The number of opioids prescribed to adolescents and young adults nearly doubled between 1994 and 2007 and this continues to be a serious problem. We have a duty to our children to regulate the distribution of such powerful drugs.”

In January, DiZoglio also filed legislation, House Bill 344, designed to expand and strengthen substance abuse education in Massachusetts public schools. In the Commonwealth, there has been a 90 percent increase in opiate overdoses from 2000 to 2012, with one in five high school students having reported being offered, sold or provided illegal drugs at school. This legislation to expand substance abuse education to all students was also included as part of the House proposal.

New Public-Private Partnership Will Provide Jobs to Local Disabled Veterans

On the heels of this coming Veterans Day, the Methuen Home Depot and Career Resources Corporation (CRC) have announced they will join in a public-private partnership to provide jobs for disabled veterans across the Merrimack Valley who are seeking employment.

CRC, which is based in Haverhill, is a nonprofit that serves communities across the Merrimack Valley. For 47 years, it has worked to empower individuals with disabilities and other barriers to be successful and self-sufficient. The organization’s partnerships with Valley Works Career Center, the Veterans Northeast Outreach Center and the City of Haverhill Veterans’ Services have provided area veterans with comprehensive support to seek and maintain employment.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), who secured $125,000 in the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget toward CRC’s initiative to help disabled veterans find jobs, facilitated the recent meeting between CRC and the Methuen Home Depot that led to the partnership. The Methuen Home Depot will work with CRC to identify disabled area veterans in need of employment and potentially hire them for Home Depot jobs.

“Giving back is personal to The Home Depot,” said Carmen A. Fulchini, store manager of the Methuen Home Depot. “It is a part of our core values. More than 35,000 associates at The Home Depot have served or are currently serving in the military. Partnering with CRC allows us to give to those who have made the sacrifice for our country and also to let them be part of a productive and fun environment and to continue to have that feeling of contributing to make a difference. I want to thank Diana and the CRC for being dedicated to this and for allowing us to be a part of something that can help those in need”

“We are very excited to partner with the Methuen Home Depot to assist more veterans with disabilities in becoming employed,” said Brad Howell, chief executive officer at CRC. “Home Depot is a great example of a company that is willing to commit to making a difference in the lives of veterans. We are very appreciate of Representative DiZoglio who has supported CRC’s veteran’s program right from the beginning and continues to keep the needs of veterans foremost in her legislative and community work. ”

“As we approach Veterans Day, it is so important that we work together to address unemployment among our veterans, which remains high comparative to the overall population,” said DiZoglio. “These are men and women who have put their lives on the line for us and we need to do all we can to help them transition back into the community. I am grateful to CRC and the Methuen Home Depot for their commitment to joining forces in helping to put our unemployed disabled veterans back to work.”

DiZoglio Launches Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at State House

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), pictured alongside members of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Massachusetts chapters of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA), recently hosted a kick-off of the Massachusetts Legislature Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at the State House.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen), pictured alongside members of the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and Massachusetts chapters of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA), recently hosted a kick-off of the Massachusetts Legislature Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at the State House.

State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) hosted a kick-off of the Massachusetts Legislature Parkinson’s Disease Caucus at the State House on Wednesday, November 4.

The purpose of the caucus, which will meet again in the spring, is to provide legislators an opportunity to come together with experts and advocates to learn more about Parkinson’s and consider legislative steps to address the neurological disease, which affects between 500,000 and 1.5 million Americans and is the 14th leading cause of death in the United States. It is estimated that 60,000 people are diagnosed each year in the U.S. with Parkinson’s. The exact cause of the disease remains unknown.

Co-hosting the Caucus kick-off were the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research and the Massachusetts chapters of the Parkinson’s Action Network (PAN) and American Parkinson’s Disease Association (APDA). Among those in attendance for the caucus were the Offices of State Senators Kathleen O’Connor Ives (D-Newburyport) and Barbara L’Italien (D-Andover).

This past April, DiZoglio hosted Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Day at the State House and sponsored a resolution, co-sponsored by 50 other legislators, proclaiming the month of April as Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month in the Commonwealth.

“Parkinson’s Disease is a chronic and progressive neurological disease without a treatment to slow or halt its progression,” said DiZoglio. “I was honored to host the kick-off of the Parkinson’s Disease Caucus and look forward to continue raising awareness about the disease with citizens from the Merrimack Valley and across the Commonwealth. Thank you to North Andover’s Charles Brown, Massachusetts state director of the Parkinson’s Action Network, for his inspirational comments at the kick-off and for helping to launch the Caucus.”

“Representative DiZoglio has been a true friend to the Parkinson’s community here in Massachusetts,” said Charles Brown, Massachusetts state director of the Parkinson’s Action Network. “This caucus gives the Parkinson’s community a tool to communicate needed services to improve the quality of life for us, our caregivers, and family and friends. I don’t know where my future journey will lead me, but it’s full of hope that there will be a cure.”

House Passes Funding to Move Women Addicts Out of Prison, into Treatment Beds

Included in the Massachusetts House of Representatives’ FY16 supplemental budget, passed on October 28, was $5.8 million toward moving women, civilly committed under Section 35, out of the Massachusetts Correctional Institution (MCI) in Framingham and into a hospital facility for treatment.

Under Section 35 of the Commonwealth’s General Laws, persons battling substance abuse may be involuntarily committed at the request of a family member, doctor, guardian or police officer if they are deemed a risk to themselves or others. They are ordered by the court to undergo detox and treatment at a licensed facility.

Given the lack of treatment beds, however, women committed under Section 35 are often sent to MCI-Framingham, the only prison for women in the Commonwealth. Men are sent to the prison in Bridgewater but, unlike women at Framingham, receive treatment under medical supervision. Women at Framingham are strip-searched, given prison uniforms and housed with pretrial detainees.

At the very beginning of this year, in January, State Representative Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen) filed legislation to move Section 35 patients out of houses of correction and into hospitals. That legislation, House Bill 1790, An Act relative to safe in-patient alcoholism or substance abuse treatment, had its public hearing before the Joint Committee on Mental Health and Substance Abuse in September.

“Addicts deemed a danger to themselves or others need counseling and treatment, but the Section 35 law needs to be updated,” said DiZoglio. “That is why this past January, I filed legislation to move addicts committed under Section 35 out of prisons and into hospitals.”

On account of the increase in opiate addiction, Section 35 commitments have been rising dramatically in the Commonwealth. According to the Massachusetts Department of Health, there has been a 67 percent increase in Section 35 commitments since 2006.

“When there are no treatment beds at licensed facilities remaining, women committed under this statute have received unsatisfactory treatment while suffering the trauma of imprisonment,” said DiZoglio. “We must provide these women with comprehensive treatment, not jail time.”

Earlier this month, Gov. Charlie Baker also filed legislation to prohibit women from being civilly committed at Framingham.

“I am grateful to Governor Baker for his prioritizing of this issue as his administration addresses the Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic and also want to thank House Ways and Means Chairman Brian S. Dempsey for his leadership in ensuring these critical funds were included in the House supplemental budget,” said DiZoglio.