Rochester, NY - Monroe County Executive Candidate Adam Bello today announced a 4-point plan to deal with the opioid epidemic in Monroe County, highlighting that the plan is the product of months of conversations with service providers, law enforcement officials, individuals in recovery, and governmental leaders.
“The opioid epidemic has destroyed the lives of far too many individuals in families across Monroe County, without any regard for age, ethnicity, or socioeconomic background,” said Bello. “It is critical that Monroe County have a plan in place that takes a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach to better coordinate and expand upon the efforts of the incredible and dedicated people and organizations in this community already working on the front lines of the crisis.”
“Timing is everything when it comes to getting people the help they need. People coming into emergency rooms are often ready to take the necessary steps to fight their addiction,” continued Bello. “It is imperative that we take advantage of technology to remove barriers to treatment. We don’t have to reinvent the wheel. There is a program recognized as a best practice 90 miles down the thruway. We can and should emulate that program right here in Monroe County.”
Bello outlined the four points of his plan:
Monroe County will take a leadership role and develop a network that would fundamentally change the way patients receive and access treatment. In conjunction with an immediate dose of Suboxone, a drug that eliminates the craving for opioids, an individual admitted to a hospital emergency room would be able to use a tablet to make an appointment for long-term treatment within 24-48 hours. The network is modeled after the best practice Buffalo MATTERS system, and the steps, taken together bridge and shorten the period from when an individual is released to when they can start their treatment.
Monroe County will appoint an opioid director; a fulltime position in county government reporting directly to the County Executive and responsible for coordinating the disparate, multi-discipline efforts that are occurring throughout Monroe County. In addition to focusing on the implementation of the systemwide network, this position would also focus on expanding the prevention message, promoting services available to the families dealing with this scourge, and improving data collection to guarantee we are capturing the full magnitude of this crisis.
Monroe County will increase communication, transparency, and an expansion of those participating in county efforts. There would be a collaborative development of public goals, a guiding vision, accountability, and regular public reports to the community. Minutes for all Opioid Task Force minutes would appear on the Monroe County website – just like they are in Erie County.
Monroe County will prioritize increasing coordination between mental health and addiction services. Half of the population suffering from drug addiction also suffer from mental health issues.
“The opioid issue is like so many other issues we face in Monroe County,” added Bello. “We are fortunate to have many great organizations and people doing great work, but the county’s response fails to match the scale of the problem. Many of the people I have talked to are frustrated by the county’s failure to take the leadership role in this public health crisis."
In 2018, Monroe County saw over 1,100 opioid overdoses, resulting in over 150 fatalities. Since 2016, the number of fatalities in Monroe County totals 630. Unlike in Erie and Onondaga Counties where the Opioid Task Force was created by Executive Order, Monroe County’s was not and is therefore not an official part of the county government. The Monroe County Opioid Action Plan has not been updated since August of 2018.