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Monroe County Reacting to U.S. Surgeon Generals' Recommendation in Regards to Narcan

Monroe County reacting to U.S. Surgeon General's recommendation in regards to Narcan

By: Ashley Edlund

Updated: Apr 10, 2018 11:19 AM EDT

Rochester. N.Y (WROC_TV) - As of April 3rd, there have been 42 deaths due to overdoses so far in 2018.

This time last year, just 17 were reported.

In response, the U.S. Surgeon General is now recommending more Americans start learning to use Narcan, a drug that can save someone's life in an overdose situation.

The Clinton Family Health Center, part of Rochester Regional Health, said they're trying to get as many people comfortable with using Narcan as they can.

For family medicine physician Fatma Akmese at the center, that's meant showing people how simple it is to use.

"If I press this, it will spray all the medicine out, so it's a one-step thing,” she said, holding the nasal version of Narcan.

Akmese and the center hold training sessions the first Friday of every month and reach out to the community to bring training to those who ask for it.

And those who have struggled with addiction, like David Attridge, said that's important.

"I’ve been in different situations and seen people brought back from the edge. They were just about gone when I saw them. It's a miracle drug, as far as I’m concerned."

Attridge, who formed the organization Recovery Now NY and helped create Gates to Recovery, feels the push to get more Narcan out there is working.

"We’re seeing more and more people coming to get training,” he said.

Even people, he says, don't think they're directly affected by it.

"My niece carries it and she really doesn't know anyone except for me, but she was able to help someone laying on the ground in the Public Market. She was able to bring her back and get 9-1-1 there after using the Narcan.”

Mark Assini Tweet

Mark Assini Tweet

Mark Assini‏ @markassini

Today at Highland Park families gathered to remember, honor and mourn loved ones lost to addiction. We must do all in our power to end this crisis which has taken nearly 400 lives in Monroe County since 2016. To the families who have lost loved ones our deepest sympathies.

12:54 PM - 8 Apr 2018

 

Rochester Comes Together for National Crime Victims' Week

Rochester Comes Together for National Crime Victims' Week

April 09, 2018 09:13 AM

Loved ones, friends, and community leaders are remembering those killed by drug overdoses.

Sunday marks the start of National Crime Victims' Awareness Week. In Monroe County, those close to overdose victims came together for a memorial in Highland Park.

April 09, 2018 09:13 AM

Loved ones, friends, and community leaders are remembering those killed by drug overdoses.

Sunday marks the start of National Crime Victims' Awareness Week. In Monroe County, those close to overdose victims came together for a memorial in Highland Park.

A warning from the group is to be on the look out for fentanyl, a potent pain killer often prescribed after surgery. Some forms of it are not considered illegal in New York.

"I suffered for a year before my daughter died, watching that addiction take her," Jim Wesley, a former forensic chemist, said. "I had good health benefits. I tried everything possible to help her and in the end on her autopsy the four causes of death were heroin, fentanyl, morphine, and cocaine."

Those meeting Sunday want to stop other people from having to endure the pain of losing someone to the opioid epidemic and to talk to others who have lost someone someone due to a drug overdose. But this was not just a memorial, but also a rally. 

The group calling for more resources to fight this epidemic. Becky Baker, who lost her son last year at the age 27 to an opioid overdose, wanted to send out a warning to parents and others who's loved one is struggling with an addiction.

"I know of so many autopsy reports that have come back recently and let me say to you...it's not even the heroin. These people think they're buying heroin. It's been around forever, fentanyl is killing our kids and prosecution needs to take place," Baker said.

"There are 25 different fentanyls being distributed throughout the country which only 6 are illegal in New York State," Wesley said. "So the fentanyl that showed up in March 2016 and started killing everybody, you can have that in you, you can sell it, you can drive down the street and you can't arrest anybody because it's not a drug."

Right now, the demand is for more detox beds in Monroe County as only 25 detox beds serve the entire county.

WHECTV

Updated: April 09, 2018 09:13 AM
Created: April 08, 2018 06:22 PM

Copyright 2018 - WHEC-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

 

For Immediate Release

 

Gates to Recovery Is Heading to the Eastside

    The successful addiction and support services drop in center, Gates to Recovery, will be opening 2 satellite centers on the eastside of Monroe County. “With over 90 people being placed into treatment and over 125 families getting support services we felt we no choice but to look for more options  to reach more people needing treatment and more families needing support" said RecoveryNowNY's Outreach Director Ashley Gnau. Beginning Tuesday March 13, 2018 and every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month, Gates to Recovery Webster/Penfield will be in operation at the Webster Community Center, 1350 Chiyoda Dr. from 5pm to 8pm.

    Patti Cataldi Webster Town Councilwoman said "The Opioid crisis has affected all of our communities and has brought all addictions to the forefront. We are pleased to partner with Recovery Now NY to provide addiction support services for residents of Webster. The Gates to Recovery program has proven effective in the Town of Gates. The program, which will be known as Gates to Recovery Webster/Penfield, will include a drop in center at the Webster Community Center to provide fast access to treatment for those suffering from addiction as well as monthly Narcan training sessions for the community. "

    Beginning Tuesday March 19, 2018 and every 3rd Tuesday of the month Gates to Recovery, East Rochester/Fairport will be open from 5-8pm at the East Rochester Senior Center 120 West Commercial St. Narcan training will be provided. "To be able to bring our services to the residents of East Rochester, Fairport and surrounding areas will result in more people, more families getting the support and services they need, which ultimately will end up with more lives being saved and less families being ripped apart." said  Executive Director David Attridge.

    Gates To Recovery will be providing Narcan Training for the entire Fairport Police Department this coming month. Speakers will also be appearing at both satellite locations every month.

 

Mother prays more detox beds can help opioid users fight addiction

Mother prays more detox beds can help opioid users fight addiction

Mother prays more detox beds can help opioid users fight addiction

Maryann Marshall said she prays that a decision by the state to allow hospitals to use more of their beds for detox, at least temporarily, will make a difference for families fighting opioid addiction.

“Keep them and detox them,” the Greece woman said. Marshall said her son Jonathan was never offered a bed all the times she took him to Unity Hospital because of opioids.

“They never kept him more than a few hours,” she said. “They’d hydrate him and send him off on his way.”

Marshall said it’s crucial that people addicted to drugs get help when they want it. “You’ve got to move quickly.” Her son survived but is now incarcerated. 

Feb. 27: Villa of Hope in Greece gets state money for youth detox beds

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services earlier in March freed hospitals from a regulation governing the number of beds that can be used for detox services.

“It opens up hospitals to be responsive to the needs of their communities,” said Robert A. Kent, general counsel for OASAS. “We know in Rochester, like other communities, there are a lot of people who show up in the emergency department, reversed on Narcan, clearly with addiction issues. We want the hospital to have the full range of options available without any interference from state regulators.”

Read: 28 days, 84 ODs, 16 deaths

But the waiver may not matter in Monroe County, according to one person in the recovery field.

“The hospital beds are full,” said Carl Hatch-Feir, president and chief executive officer of Delphi Drug & Alcohol Council. “There are parts of the state where it will make a significant difference. Monroe County is not one of those parts.”

However, Hatch-Feir said there could be a ripple effect — hospitals in outlying areas taking advantage of the waiver could free up resources in Monroe County.

Obituaries reflect devastating opioid crisis, as families tell truth about lost loved ones

Full houses

The state Department of Health operating certificate allows hospitals to treat people for addiction, Kent said. However, hospitals that do not have a specific license from OASAS are limited in the number of beds they can use for that purpose. OASAS is allowing hospitals to get a waiver so they can use five or more medical/surgical beds for a person needing treatment for addiction. The waiver runs through 2018 and will be revisited for 2019.

Hospitals in the UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health systems routinely run at or over capacity. Early in January, both systems reported that some patients who needed to be admitted from the emergency department were temporarily boarded in hallways.

Kent said he would not comment about how hospitals manage their beds. “I think there’s always beds available for them to be detoxing people. Local hospitals can dispute that and talk about what their patient flow is. My sense is, if there’s need, they find a way to help people.”

Kent said he’s had inquiries from Rochester-area hospitals, but he declined to say which ones.

New walk-in clinic links drug users to treatment; hours to be extended

What will UR, RRH do?

UR Medicine officials said that given capacity constraints, they do not envision adding beds dedicated to detox services at Strong or Highland hospitals. However, other hospitals in the UR Medicine system may be exploring the option.

A statement from B. Chip Partner, director of external communications at UR Medicine, said officials at Strong Memorial Hospital are working with Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza to determine how the OASAS waiver may help the hospital expand and accelerate its link to outpatient recovery services for hospital patients.

Strong and other UR Medicine hospitals provide inpatient detox services also to opioid-addicted patients who are admitted for other medical needs. The length of stay for detoxification is usually two to four days.

UR Medicine provides comprehensive outpatient addiction recovery services, Partner wrote. 

Rochester Regional Health is working on a plan based on the OASAS memo sent earlier in the month, said Kathy McGuire, senior vice president for behavioral health. 

"There are still some unanswered questions from OASAS and when they are addressed, we hope to have a better idea of the direction we will be headed to continue to fight the opioid crisis," she wrote in an email.

RRH provides limited detox services in a hospital when medically necessary for hospitalized patients, and the system has an outpatient program, she wrote.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter discusses his response to the opioid crisis

Conversation-starter

Kent said the waiver is part of a bigger discussion about detox beds and connecting individuals to follow-up treatment.

“Almost everybody with an addiction issue, especially in this epidemic, ends up in an emergency department one way or the other in crisis,” he said. “Not everybody will be appropriate for detox in a hospital. If we create more community-based detox beds, they can go there.”

Kent said hospitals are taking a broader view of their role in treatment and making connections from the emergency department and detox bed to treatment so that people aren’t sent right home. “It’s not the right place to go when we're in the midst of what we’re in the midst of.”

Carol Struble of Hilton said she grew frustrated with New York City emergency departments that treated only the crisis her son Robert Giannotti was in before discharging him.

“They don’t give any follow-up,” said Struble, who lost her son to addiction. “Like a cancer patient or a diabetic or someone with a broken leg, they need follow-up. What’s the difference between a diabetic and an addict coming through? They still need help and direction.”

Kent also said OASAS is in discussion to increase the capacity for Syracuse Behavioral Health on University Avenue, which is licensed for 25 adult beds. OASAS recently awarded a grant to Villa of Hope for 18 beds that would serve people as young as 16.

PSINGER@Gannett.com

 

 

 

Maryann Marshall said she prays that a decision by the state to allow hospitals to use more of their beds for detox, at least temporarily, will make a difference for families fighting opioid addiction.

“Keep them and detox them,” the Greece woman said. Marshall said her son Jonathan was never offered a bed all the times she took him to Unity Hospital because of opioids.

“They never kept him more than a few hours,” she said. “They’d hydrate him and send him off on his way.”

Marshall said it’s crucial that people addicted to drugs get help when they want it. “You’ve got to move quickly.” Her son survived but is now incarcerated. 

Feb. 27: Villa of Hope in Greece gets state money for youth detox beds

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services earlier in March freed hospitals from a regulation governing the number of beds that can be used for detox services.

“It opens up hospitals to be responsive to the needs of their communities,” said Robert A. Kent, general counsel for OASAS. “We know in Rochester, like other communities, there are a lot of people who show up in the emergency department, reversed on Narcan, clearly with addiction issues. We want the hospital to have the full range of options available without any interference from state regulators.”

Read: 28 days, 84 ODs, 16 deaths

But the waiver may not matter in Monroe County, according to one person in the recovery field.

“The hospital beds are full,” said Carl Hatch-Feir, president and chief executive officer of Delphi Drug & Alcohol Council. “There are parts of the state where it will make a significant difference. Monroe County is not one of those parts.”

However, Hatch-Feir said there could be a ripple effect — hospitals in outlying areas taking advantage of the waiver could free up resources in Monroe County.

Obituaries reflect devastating opioid crisis, as families tell truth about lost loved ones

Full houses

The state Department of Health operating certificate allows hospitals to treat people for addiction, Kent said. However, hospitals that do not have a specific license from OASAS are limited in the number of beds they can use for that purpose. OASAS is allowing hospitals to get a waiver so they can use five or more medical/surgical beds for a person needing treatment for addiction. The waiver runs through 2018 and will be revisited for 2019.

Hospitals in the UR Medicine and Rochester Regional Health systems routinely run at or over capacity. Early in January, both systems reported that some patients who needed to be admitted from the emergency department were temporarily boarded in hallways.

Kent said he would not comment about how hospitals manage their beds. “I think there’s always beds available for them to be detoxing people. Local hospitals can dispute that and talk about what their patient flow is. My sense is, if there’s need, they find a way to help people.”

Kent said he’s had inquiries from Rochester-area hospitals, but he declined to say which ones.

New walk-in clinic links drug users to treatment; hours to be extended

What will UR, RRH do?

UR Medicine officials said that given capacity constraints, they do not envision adding beds dedicated to detox services at Strong or Highland hospitals. However, other hospitals in the UR Medicine system may be exploring the option.

A statement from B. Chip Partner, director of external communications at UR Medicine, said officials at Strong Memorial Hospital are working with Monroe County Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Michael Mendoza to determine how the OASAS waiver may help the hospital expand and accelerate its link to outpatient recovery services for hospital patients.

Strong and other UR Medicine hospitals provide inpatient detox services also to opioid-addicted patients who are admitted for other medical needs. The length of stay for detoxification is usually two to four days.

UR Medicine provides comprehensive outpatient addiction recovery services, Partner wrote. 

Rochester Regional Health is working on a plan based on the OASAS memo sent earlier in the month, said Kathy McGuire, senior vice president for behavioral health. 

"There are still some unanswered questions from OASAS and when they are addressed, we hope to have a better idea of the direction we will be headed to continue to fight the opioid crisis," she wrote in an email.

RRH provides limited detox services in a hospital when medically necessary for hospitalized patients, and the system has an outpatient program, she wrote.

Monroe County Sheriff Todd Baxter discusses his response to the opioid crisis

Conversation-starter

Kent said the waiver is part of a bigger discussion about detox beds and connecting individuals to follow-up treatment.

“Almost everybody with an addiction issue, especially in this epidemic, ends up in an emergency department one way or the other in crisis,” he said. “Not everybody will be appropriate for detox in a hospital. If we create more community-based detox beds, they can go there.”

Kent said hospitals are taking a broader view of their role in treatment and making connections from the emergency department and detox bed to treatment so that people aren’t sent right home. “It’s not the right place to go when we're in the midst of what we’re in the midst of.”

Carol Struble of Hilton said she grew frustrated with New York City emergency departments that treated only the crisis her son Robert Giannotti was in before discharging him.

“They don’t give any follow-up,” said Struble, who lost her son to addiction. “Like a cancer patient or a diabetic or someone with a broken leg, they need follow-up. What’s the difference between a diabetic and an addict coming through? They still need help and direction.”

Kent also said OASAS is in discussion to increase the capacity for Syracuse Behavioral Health on University Avenue, which is licensed for 25 adult beds. OASAS recently awarded a grant to Villa of Hope for 18 beds that would serve people as young as 16.

PSINGER@Gannett.com

Monroe County cops report 84 OD's, 16 fatalities in February  -

Monroe County cops report 84 OD's, 16 fatalities in February -

February brought 84 opioid overdoses in Monroe County, with 16 of them fatal.

Overdoses occurred in 12 towns, villages and city.

The data came from county law enforcement officials and was analyzed by the Monroe Crime Analysis Center (MCAC).

January saw 92 overdoses, with 14 fatalities, according the MCAC analysis.

The monthly report, which includes some demographic data is provided to local law enforcement.

The data compiled for the Monroe County Heroin Task Force is considered unofficial, but law enforcement officials have said it gives them information about deploying their resources to hot spots. The Monroe County Medical Examiner is considered the official source, but that data can take months to compile and release to the public. The medical examiner has yet to release data for 2017. The MCAC analysis reported 766 overdose reports and 142 fatalities, with the caution that the data was not final.

MCAC plots the location of weekly overdoses on a map, which it gives to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to post on its website.

Read: Brain craves opioids like its chocolate

The map through Feb. 25 showed 19 overdoses (three fatalities) in the previous week. The site also has a map with cumulative totals from Jan. 1. Overdose fatalities are marked by a red diamond shapes and non-fatal overdoses are marked by a blue diamond shape.

“The pin map is to give a visual representation to the public about what kind of problem we’re facing,” said Lt. Andrew DeLyser, opioid command post incident commander for the Monroe County Heroin task force. “We can say we have this many overdoses here, this many overdoses here. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words. … We’re hoping to portray the scope of the problem to people.”

Read: RGH has mail-in option to dispose of drugs

Comparisons to January and February 2017 are difficult to make with the MCAC data because early last year, not all law enforcement agencies collected information at the scene. Nevertheless, MCAC reported 70 overdoses, 13 of them fatal, for the first two months in 2017.

Other data from the February overdoses:

  • Average age: 35; oldest person was 61 and the youngest was 19.
  • Gender: 53 males and 31 females.
  • Location: 58 in Rochester; 5 each in Greece and Henrietta; 3 each in Honeoye Falls, Webster and Penfield; 1 each in Gates, Ogden, Fairport, Pittsford, Perinton, Brockport and Chili.
  • Narcan use: Law enforcement reported 58 instances.

PSINGER@Gannett.com

Mapping overdoses

To track location of overdoses, go to www2.monroecounty.gov/sheriff-heroin-task-force.

CONNECTTWEETLINKEDINCOMME

Villa of Hope in Greece gets state money for youth detox beds

Villa of Hope in Greece gets state money for youth detox beds

Villa of Hope will receive approximately $2 million for 18 detox beds to serve older teens, part of funding to expand detox services statewide.

The location of the beds needs to be determined.  

“We are so absolutely thrilled to get these beds and address this crisis,” said Christina Gullo, president and chief executive officer of Villa of Hope.

The money will be used for medically supervised withdrawal and stabilization services, which provide 24-hour care to people who are under the influence or suffering from withdrawal of substances. Once stabilized, the individuals can be connected to long-term services.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the funding Tuesday. The money comes from the state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services.

More: Six weeks, 112 overdoses, 17 deaths in Monroe County

More: New ways NY wants to crack down on dangerous fentanyl

More: Area sites would provide heroin users immediate access

Five agencies in the Finger Lakes, Capital Region, Mid-Hudson Valley, North Country and Southern Tier will share $10 million to build 84 beds.

The exact amount of the award will depend on expenses. Also in the Finger Lakes, the approximate award for Genesee Council on Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Inc., which serves Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, is $1.9 million for 16 beds.

Trinity of Chemung County is expected to receive $2.38 million for 20 beds.

The award to Villa of Hope would provide the first detox group of beds in Monroe County for younger people. Currently, the only detox beds are at Syracuse Behavioral Health, and they are for people 18 and older.

Villa of Hope serves infants to 25-year-olds and their families with a variety of residential and off-campus programs. Gullo said the beds would be for open to anyone 16 and older.

“It will give the opportunity for 16- and 17-year-olds who need this treatment,” she said. Younger people will need other services, she said. Older people would be eligible for the service if a bed were available.

Someone posted these signs outside a drug use hot spot on North Clinton Avenue. Justin Murphy

It may take several months before the beds are ready. The timing is based in part on whether the beds become part of the Villa of Hope campus on Dewey Avenue in Greece.

Gullo said Villa of Hope, which has been in Greece for 75 years, needs to meet with the town to see if there are any zoning issues. She said Villa of Hope has 40 acres, and there is plenty of room for a facility that would not infringe on any neighbors and be welcoming to people coming for treatment.

Villa of Hope also has been discussing potential locations in Gates.

“Our first preference would be working with the town of Greece on this life-saving project,” Gullo said.

Villa of Hope responded to a request for proposal by OASAS. She said the state agency has not imposed a deadline and is used to working with local organizations on logistics.

PSINGER@Gannett.com

Addiction recovery center opening satellite sites in Webster, East Rochester

by WHAM Wednesday, March 7th 2018

This month, they will be adding two satellite centers in Webster and East Rochester.

Support meetings in Webster will be held every 2nd and 4th Tuesday of the month at the Webster Community Center on Chiyoda Drive. The first meeting is scheduled for March 13 from 5-8 p.m.

“With over 90 people being placed into treatment and over 125 families getting support services, we felt we no choice but to look for more options to reach more people needing treatment and more families needing support" said Ashley Gnau, Outreach Director for Recovery Now NY.

RELATED: 'Gates to Recovery' grabs attention of national non-profit

Support meetings in East Rochester will held every 3rd Tuesday of the month at the East Rochester Senior Center on West Commercial Street. The first meeting is scheduled for March 19.

Gates To Recovery will be providing Narcan training for the entire Fairport Police Department this coming month, as well.

 

Addiction recovery services expand in Monroe County

By Spectrum News Staff  |  March 7, 2018 @9:23 PM

WEBSTER, N.Y. -- For almost 18 months, the Gates to Recovery addiction services center has been helping those battling against opioid addiction. Now, the center is hoping to help even more by opening two satellite locations later this month.

"When we first started this out, we had people come from all over. We had people come from Wayne County, we had people come from Webster, just coming in. So we wanted to be able to come over to the east side," said David Attridge of RecoveryNowNY.

"Clearly the opioid crisis has affected every community. This will help to provide services to those who are literally fighting for their lives," said Town of Webster Councilwoman Patti Cataldi.

A center in Webster will also serve the Town of Penfield, while the second location in East Rochester will benefit that community as well as the Village of Fairport. This year alone, there have been 15 overdoses, five fatal across those four communities. Both centers will have monthly drop in meetings that can help addicts seeking treatment.

"They facilitate quick access to treatment for those who are looking to recover from addictions," said Cataldi.

"We're not going to put them on a waiting list, we're going to find something for them. Usually we are 24-72 hours that we will have something rolling for them," said Attridge.

There will be support and education for families in addition to free Narcan training once a month.

"A lot of education, if you just want to learn about the whole epidemic, if you want to learn about a certain drug. We're going to have tons of stuff there," said Attridge.

And the Town of Webster plans to distribute information cards to law enforcement that helps point addicts towards the center.

"On the flip-side it has all of these services that are offered in the area and we're going to hand those out to as many people as we can," said Cataldi.

Gates to Recovery plans to open additional locations in the future. The idea for the Webster location was proposed just two weeks ago.

The location within the Webster Recreation Center will open on March 13 and hold meetings every second and fourth Tuesday of the month from 5-8 p.m. The East Rochester Senior Center will hold meetings on the third Thursday of the month beginning March 19. 

Number of Overdoses Challenges Towns

Number of Overdoses Challenges Towns

636525640499303117-gates8.jpg

PattySinger, @PattiSingerRoc Published 11:52 p.m. ET Jan. 27, 2018 | Updated 5:37 p.m. ET Jan. 28, 2018

(Photo: MAX SCHULTE/@maxrocphoto/staff photographer)

Just about every Thursday since September, Kim Kinton has gone to Gates Town Hall to be with the people she calls family.

She takes food for those who are in their own recovery from opioids and for others who, like her, love a family member caught up in addiction.

“I get hugs,” she said. “I get support.”

Before Gates to Recovery started, the 48-year-old sat at home. “I just cried and felt alone. … Every town should have something like this. It helps.”

Last year, every town in Monroe County had at least one overdose, according to data from law enforcement agencies. About 140 of those were fatal.

With opioid misuse so entrenched in the suburbs, where on a town’s to-do list — run schools, clear snow off roads, collect taxes — is dealing with opioid addiction?

Complete coverage: Science of opioids

More: Drugs kill more Americans than guns, cars and AIDS. How we got here.

More: With 175 Americans dying a day, what are the solutions to the opioid epidemic?

More: Church conference on combating addiction draws hundreds

“That’s a good question,” said Rick Page, who is starting his seventh year on the Henrietta Town Board. “We have not had any direct contact with anyone in the town thinking this is a town issue. … From our job responsibility and what people expect us to do on a daily basis, and the services they expect us to provide, that has not been brought up.”

Janine Sanger, president of the Webster Health and Education Network, which is a drug-free-community coalition, said town government can be an important partner, but not the only player.

“It can’t be,” said Sanger, also the coordinator of health and wellness for Webster Central Schools. “It’s parents, it’s the school, it’s business, it’s religious.”  

A role of local government?

636525640504139148-gates11.jpg

Gates to Recovery ends with a group hug after participants were given instructions in the use of naloxone, a drug that reverses the effects of opioids. (Photo: MAX SCHULTE/@maxrocphoto/staff photographer)

Nothing in Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo’s action plan on opioids specifically addressed the role of town government. The strategy, announced this past week, called for the medical community to review its practices, law enforcement to figure out ways to share data and the county to do more school and community outreach.

Ginny Nacy, who lost a son to addiction and is the driving force behind the community coalition Drug-Free Irondequoit, said a town’s involvement is a commitment to quality of life for residents. “You’re looking at all of the things that are reasons why people would want to continue to live in that town. If you have a town that’s dealing with a crisis such as what we’re dealing with, I think that says a lot about the town.”

More: Widespread training in opioid antidote is part of Monroe County plan

More: 'Gates to Recovery' opens in Gates to help those with drug problems get treatment

The day after the education and advocacy organization Recovery Now NY participated in a forum at the Gates library in August, Gates Police Chief James VanBrederode met with the organizer about the idea of a drop-in center. Two days later, Gates to Recovery opened.

From 5 to 8 on Thursday evenings, the town lets Recovery Now NY use a room in the recreation center that’s part of the town hall complex on Buffalo Road. Recovery Now organizes the programming, which includes information on support for addicts and families, links to treatment and training in how to use the opioid antidote naloxone.

Gates Supervisor Mark Assini, who along with VanBrederode worked to start Gates to Recovery, said he has had some residents ask him why he’s behind the drop-in center.

"It’s to save lives,” he said. “We’re losing lives in our town, we’re losing lives in other towns. … If we can help a family that’s struggling, provide them help, give support, it’s worth it.”

Assini said some residents have chafed at people from outside the town being welcome at the weekly event. Critics have also questioned why there is no charge to Recovery Now NY or for people who attend.   

"This is controversial," Assini said. “You have to answer questions, why are we doing this, what’s it costing. … It’s costing lives if we don’t do it. We have the facility. We have the heat, the lights, the space.”

Last year, 21 Gates residents overdosed on an opioid, But not all the drug-related incidents were related to townspeople.

“People drive through Gates,” Assini said. “They crash into poles. They overdose in the middle of our intersections. We can’t just turn a blind eye to the fact they need help …. and say that’s too bad. We have to help them and in doing that, we’re trying to keep  as many of you safe as possible.” 

He has another, more private reason — he has a sister addicted to heroin.

“The personal pain that my family went through with somebody we love and love to this day made me understand what other families go through,” Assini said. “I don’t want people to go through that in shame. I don’t want people going through that thinking they’re alone. Part of (Gates to Recovery) is just maybe a way to give back to my parents, who right to the very end loved my sister and never gave up on her. Ever. Part of it is a tribute to my sister, who has gone through this hell her whole life. I feel that making a difference in this gives me some sense of relief and it also helps those that are struggling.”

When your neighbor is also an addict

Just about every community in Monroe County had at least one resident who overdosed. Some communities had more than a dozen. Patti Singer

On the third Thursday of the month, Gates to Recovery hosts training in how to use the opioid antidote naloxone.

Lori Keenan and Susan Hine, both of Greece, wanted to learn.

One woman said she believed that some neighbors were addicts, and the other said there had been two overdoses in two days at a convenience store near her house.

“Whatever we can prepare ourselves to do, we should do,” Keenan said.

Hine said the opioid problem needs to be a priority for a community.

“In order to make progress, we need community support,” she said. “Our leaders need to be on the ball. They need to speak out on it.”

She said she knew other people who wanted to get involved in stopping the epidemic but didn’t know where to go. “If we get our leaders' support behind it, I would feel like now we’re doing something about it.”

Both women said that to their knowledge, their town of Greece did not have anything like what they saw in Gates.

More: Obituaries reflect devastating opioid crisis, as families tell truth about lost loved ones

More: Opioid overdoses everywhere in Monroe County in 2017

Greece Supervisor Bill Reilich said he was not surprised that no one has called him to ask about the town’s responsibilities or actions regarding opioids. He said there’s a limit to what a municipality can do about any particular issue.

“I would think we could talk about a variety of things that people look at different levels of government, different agencies, the school district, that would deal with these situations,” he said. “Not all of it falls back on the town. We can talk about nuclear proliferation. I don’t think they’d call the town of Greece about that. I don’t think they’d view that as a town of Greece problem.”

Greece had 72 residents who overdosed in 2017, according to data compiled by law enforcement agencies in Monroe County. The number of fatal overdoses among residents was not available.

Reilich said Greece police officers recently started carrying the opioid antidote naloxone to help someone they come upon or to protect themselves if they are exposed to the opioid fentanyl at a crime scene.

As for education about drugs, Reilich said the role of the school district is to provide age-appropriate information that deters use.

New generation taught to just say no

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Last year, the average age of a person who overdosed in Monroe County was 36, according to law enforcement data. The oldest person was 72. In November and December, there was at least one overdose of a person in their 60s.

Henrietta board member Rick Page said that town is experiencing overdoses among 26- to 36-year-olds. 

Yet towns tend to expend their resources on drug education in the schools.

The mission of the long-standing Rush and Henrietta Community Health and Safety Coalition is to promote drug-free development among youth, according to its Facebook page.

“We focused all of our efforts on the preventive part, trying to reach our children as early as possible, trying to provide as much information and support that way,” said Page, who worked in the district and now represents the town on the coalition.

But when heroin and opiate problems affect middle-aged people, there may be less a town can do as far as education. At that point, the person may have a serious medical condition. The town can, however, make itself welcoming to licensed medical and support professionals who are better equipped to handle individual cases.

Like Webster, Fairport has had a long-standing group addressing healthy lifestyle choice. The Fairport school district has teamed up with the mayor, the Perinton supervisor, community groups, parents and students in the Chemical Dependency Advisory Council (CPAC).

“To have something that’s successful, you have to have key leaders,” co-chairwoman Debra Tandoi said. “It gives you a well-rounded group.”

Because CPAC includes a wide swath of the community, its actions and results have a greater reach, Tandoi said.

“In every community, only about 70 percent of taxpayers have kids in school,” she added.

Irondequoit brings stakeholders together

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Carol Struble, from Hilton gives Sue Manno of Irondequoit a bracelet with her son's name on it. Struble lost her son to addiction and Manno has a son currently battling addiction. The two connected at Gates to Recovery, a program hosted by the Town of Gates to help addicts and families struggling with the opioid crisis. (Photo: MAX SCHULTE/@maxrocphoto/staff photographer)

Irondequoit Supervisor Dave Seeley said towns normally are associated with providing direct services, such as filling potholes or building playgrounds, but they can't ignore other problems. 

Seeley said he's seen what Assini and VanBrederode have done with Gates to Recovery, but such a concept may not fit for every community.

"There's no right answer to any of this," Seeley said. "I think a lot of communities are doing a lot of good things. It's looking at some of those best practices."

A couple of years ago, Seeley got a visit from Ginny Nacy about what the town could do about drugs. Nacy’s son, Patrick, had died of a heroin overdose in May 2015 at age 32. 

The result is Drug-Free Irondequoit: Together, which includes officials from both town school districts and Bishop Kearney, businesspeople and families. Seeley and Police Chief Richard Tantalo attend meetings.

Seeley said Irondequoit took a systemic approach by bringing together as many segments of the community as possible. 

“In this case, we did feel the town was the best facilitator of this primarily because we could bring all the school systems together. … To the extent there was some limited bully pulpit involved to facilitate that, that made it worthwhile on our end.”

However, Seeley credited Nacy’s energy and devotion in making things happen. He said there was no line item in the town budget for the initiative, but the dollar amount was minimal and mostly related to printing and setting up information tables at town events.

“I think the town is a great place to have as a support for that, but it really has to embrace all different aspects of the community — churches, school districts, families, youth sports," Nacy said. "Businesses are another aspect of that. I think the municipality is a great anchor for a lot of that.

“I think because we have the support of our town, it gives us a little bit more credibility and clout, perhaps with all aspects of our community,” she said. 

PSINGER@Gannett.com

Gates to Recovery

The drop-in center is open from 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays in the recreation wing of Gates Town Hall, 1605 Buffalo Road. Programs include support for people in recovery and their families, and Narcan training. For more information, call Recovery Now at (585) 310-4080.

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Robert Giannotti Recovery Academy Forum Held on October 13, 2017

Robert Giannotti Recovery Academy Forum Held on October 13, 2017

 

Thanks Channel 13 WHAM

Community discusses proposed "recovery" high school

Gates, N.Y. – Non-profit Recovery Now NY is working to open a new type of high school in Rochester – a recovery high school.

It would be the first sober high school in the state, and it would serve students recovering from addiction.
The group held an informational meeting in Gates Tuesday about its efforts and why such a facility is needed.

“What we found is that kids go back to the same school district that they lived in – real easy access to drugs, a lot of them relapse,” said Rob Kent of the State Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. “And so we’re trying to create an environment where they can go back to a place where they can still get their education, but they’re also getting treatment if they need, or they’re getting the support for a safe place to learn, educate themselves and not relapse.”

David Attridge, the executive director of Recovery Now NY, says exposing young people in recovery to others dealing with similar issues is a way to strengthen them.

“Being able to have someone there are going through the same thing…and then being able to latch onto one, two, three, four, five people, it just makes your recovery stronger and stronger,” said Attridge.
If approved by the state, Recovery Now would work with BOCES as an educational partner.