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Poughkeepsie… The opioid crisis remains an epidemic throughout the United States, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports drug overdoses resulted in 72,000 deaths nationally in 2017. This epidemic has reached every corner of the nation, with Dutchess County experiencing 87 accidental overdose deaths in 2017. Dutchess County Government remains tenacious in its efforts to combat this crisis – among others, the creation of Prevention Coordinator and Recovery Coach positions, opening a 24/7 walk-in Stabilization Center, providing on-demand training in the life-saving medication Narcan, establishing drop boxes throughout the County where residents can safely dispose of unwanted/unneeded medication, and continuing extensive prevention education throughout the community. Dutchess County’s efforts are all part of a collaborative model for change with the support of a wide-range of public and private partners.
To expand the collaborative model Dutchess County has established, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has awarded Dutchess County a $999,985 grant to “leverage information from a variety of public health and public safety data sources to analyze substance abuse issues and identify potential solutions from public health, treatment, and public safety perspectives.” (Read the full DOJ award announcement (.pdf)) The grant will assist the Department of Behavioral and Community Health (DBCH) in building on its existing data-sharing program and will allow DBCH to create a Data-Driven Opioid Response Collaborative (DDORC), enhance its overdose surveillance and monitoring, and undertake comprehensive capacity-building initiatives aimed at integrating harm reduction principles into existing service delivery models and identify and address disparities in access to behavioral health services. The DOJ grant funding will be incorporated into County Executive Molinaro’s 2019 County Executive Budget.
County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro said, “Every Dutchess County resident has been impacted, in some way, by substance abuse. The support we’ve received from the Department of Justice will enable us to build on our information-sharing initiative, strengthening our partnership with our community partners to communicate even more effectively, all with the aim of saving Dutchess County lives. This federal funding will strengthen the County’s ability to respond to overdose data and share it throughout our community, enhancing even further our response to this epidemic.”
Among the resources in the 2019 budget for strengthening and enhancing intervention programs are:
Opioid Educator – This Public Health Coordinator position, which will be made permanent in the 2019 Budget, assists with the coordination of the County’s Opioid Overdose Prevention Program (distributing Narcan kits and providing training) and provides relevant trainings, education and outreach to all interested parties.
Recovery Coach – This position, which becomes permanent in the 2019 Budget, aids individuals in maintaining their recovery by providing motivational coaching, mentoring, lifestyle consulting, recovery planning and resource guidance from someone who has lived through recovery themselves. To date, the Recovery Coach has served 167 individuals, helping nearly 80 percent of them reach the next stage of recovery, with referrals coming from all of DBCH’s outpatient programs, including the Stabilization Center, Intensive Treatment Alternative Program (ITAP), Partial Hospital program and jail-based services.
Expanded long-term treatment options – With renovations to the County’s public health campus at 230 North Road in Poughkeepsie, its Medication Assisted Treatment (MAT) capacity has expanded to allow the Lexington Center for Recovery to nearly double the capacity of its Methadone Maintenance Treatment Program up to 500 patients and expand its offering of clinical services to enhance rehabilitative and psychosocial interventions that are available for individuals receiving Methadone; the 2019 Budget maintains funding for these critical services including support for the Lexington Center for Recovery. Of those in the MAT program, 85 percent have discontinued illegal opioid use, and more than 60 percent have maintained or improved their employment, successfully managing their addiction and living quality lives.
Criminal justice enhancements – As support and treatment for criminal justice-involved individuals is a recognized and effective way to reduce opioid related overdoses, Dutchess County will continue to maintain its 38-bed transitional facility to divert inmates from the Dutchess County Jail while awaiting inpatient substance abuse treatment or participating in intensive outpatient therapy; further, the County will maintain a dedicated probation officer to supervise participants involved in the Dutchess County Drug Diversion Court, as well as a senior probation officer to work with probationers within the ITAP operated by DBCH.
County Executive Molinaro will present his 2019 Executive Budget on Monday, October 29th at 10 a.m. in the Legislature Chambers, ahead of the required November 1st deadline established by the Dutchess County Administrative Code. The County Executive’s Budget Address can be viewed live on the County’s website, where all budget documents will also be available for review. On October 29th at 6:30 p.m., County Executive Molinaro will host a countywide tele-town hall forum, during which residents will have the opportunity to participate in a live conversation about the 2019 county budget, learn key details, ask questions and share feedback. Additionally, there will be town hall forum events about the 2019 Executive Budget held throughout the county in the month of November.