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Monroe County introduces opioid action plan

Caitlin Whyte

Monroe County has announced its opioid action plan, a multi-tiered approach to battling the epidemic including more narcan trainings and a lawsuit.

The plan begins with the official filing of that lawsuit by the county against opioid prescription companies, joining 11 other New York counties who have done so.

Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Michael Mendoza will be leading a new advisory panel with a goal of identifying and removing barriers for those seeking treatment for heroin and opioid addiction.

Mendoza said his priority will be in the emergency rooms.

"Why focus on emergency departments first? Well, we know that drug overdose is the second leading cause of accidental death among adults in the United States aged 15-64. In addition, we know that people who present to the emergency department with a non-fatal overdose have a fivefold greater chance of having another overdose."

The plan also includes adding two toxicologists to handle the surge in postmortem toxicology cases, as well as a fellowship with the University of Rochester for students pursuing forensic pathology.

More community and school outreach programs will also be held. County Sheriff Todd Baxter said this is key.

“The month of November, here in Monroe County, the average age was 35 years old, of an overdose death. Think about that. The average age in December was 34 I believe. So we're not chasing 18 year olds around."

Baxter said education would even work better with more data reporting; another goal in the county's plan. They’re aiming to collect and centralize more data on all overdoses, closer to real time.

"How do we get to see 35 year olds? DARE is a great program, but they’re 5th graders. So where is the DARE for adults? So that real time actual intelligence is really exciting."

Narcan training and distribution was mentioned as well. The county is offering to give kits and trainings to any restaurant in the area, and will be holding public trainings the 4th Wednesday of every month for anyone interested, with both morning and night sessions at the public health building on Westfall road. Those trainings are free.

Monroe County is also partnering with Judge John DeMarco for an application for a $1.8 million state grant that would help expand case management services, and enhance treatment access for low-risk, non-violent defendants diverted to drug court.

We want to hear what you have to say about opioid and heroin use in our community. Please click on this link to take a short survey.