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WXXI, in partnership with public broadcasting stations across New York state, will air special programming examining the opioid crisis during the week of Oct. 15.New York’s Opioid Crisis is a first-of-its-kind partnership to draw attention to this public health crisis and raise awareness of services available in local communities for those affected by opioid addiction.Support for opioid crisis programming on WXXI is provided in part by the New York State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. A complete list of programs can be found here: 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.

Bello calls for redesign to county approach on opioid crisis

James Brown WXXI
Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello and members of Gates to Recovery

Monroe County Clerk Adam Bello claims that County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic do not meet the scale of the problem. The Democrat, who is challenging Dinolfo, the Republican incumbent this fall, called the epidemic the largest public health crisis to hit Rochester in his lifetime. 

“This is one of the largest public health crisis to hit our community in my lifetime and I think the response from our government needs to be scaled to match that level of emergency,” said Bello.

Bello released his proposal Wednesday in front of the Victim’s Rights Memorial in Highland Park in Rochester. He wants to model Monroe County's program after Erie County’s. 

Bello says that unlike the one in Monroe County, Erie County’s opioid task force was created via executive order and is part of county government. Erie County also has the Buffalo Matters system which guarantees that hospitals have drugs that eliminate cravings for opioids to patients. Bello wants ERs to be required to set up treatment appointment for these patients within 48 hours.

“Nobody who wants help should leave an emergency room in this county without an appointment already set up to receive the treatment that they need,” said Bello.

In statement Dinolfo Campaign spokesperson Bridget Harvey responded:

Opioid addiction is not a political issue. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo is already executing a robust Opioid Action Plan, under the leadership of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza and in partnership with Sheriff Todd Baxter and District Attorney Sandra Doorley. The County has made hundreds of Narcan kits and training available to the public, is suing to hold drug companies accountable for their role in the crisis, and is facilitating better coordination of addiction response services with our local hospitals. More work remains to be done, but it should be encouraging for everyone that opioid overdose fatalities in our County decreased from 2017 to 2018.”

County spokesman Jesse Sleezer says that Monroe County also maintains a designated page at, where  the public can find more information and resources related to the county’s response to the opioid crisis.

James Brown is a reporter with WXXI News. James previously spent a decade in marketing communications, while freelance writing for CITY Newspaper. While at CITY, his reporting focused primarily on arts and entertainment.