Weekly Feature



2018-01-03 / Lifestyles

After Broome County decision, Poloncarz says Erie County still wants state-funded opioid treatment center

by ALAN RIZZO
Reporter


Mark Poloncarz Mark Poloncarz Following a Dec. 27 decision to approve a state-funded opioid treatment center in Broome County, Erie County Executive Mark

Poloncarz tweeted that he’s still seeking one for Western New York.

In congratulating Broome County leaders, he argued that counties statewide still need support in preventing overdose deaths.

“Congratulations

@jasongarnar @fredakshar @donnalupardo and others on the passage by the Broome County Legislature of acceptance of the opioid treatment center,” he wrote. “The opioid epidemic affects all regions of NY. — Mark We all deserve Erie County similar treatment centers so we can save lives.”

In a Dec. 6 letter addressed to Gov. Andrew

Cuomo, state Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and state Senate Leader John Flanagan, Poloncarz said WNY would take the facility, if legislators in Broome did not take action.

“While I sympathize with them and applaud their efforts, I am writing today to express Erie County’s interest in pursuing this project,” he wrote. “The addition of a treatment center, such as the one being proposed for Broome County, would be a major development and would greatly reinforce our efforts in the fight against opioid addiction.”

Destined to occupy the former Broome Developmental Center building, the patient-ready facility will come with $2.7 million in state funding to pay for treatment and one-time startup costs.

According to the Press & Sun-Bulletin, Republican legislators in Broome County had delayed a decision on the center arguing that their questions about the cost to taxpayers and the capacity of the facility had not yet been answered and that the county should have done a needs assessment survey before considering the state’s offer.

Poloncarz said Dec. 26 that while clinics planned for Amherst and Hamburg will help reduce

Poloncarz, long waiting lists for methadone

Executive treatment in WNY, they won’t be enough to cover the existing need. He said the center planned for Broome would cover that need and provide comprehensive opioid treatment that would also serve sufferers who don’t need medication-assisted treatment.

Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein argued that the center would be important to those who need medication-assisted treatment to avoid using.

“For individuals who are ready to start treatment, they really can’t wait, because if they wait, then they will either start suffering symptoms of withdrawal, or because their cravings aren’t satisfied, many times people continue to use,” she said, also noting that a center would bring sufferers into long-term evidence-based treatment, the goal of many of the county’s Opioid Epidemic Task Force programs.

According to Michael Ranney,

Erie County’s commissioner of mental health, 230 people are presently waiting to enter methadone treatment at clinics in Erie County.

He said the two clinics on track to open next year in WNY will add 199 slots for methadone treatment.

According to the county’s latest overdose figures, there have been 186 confirmed opioid overdoses in 2017, and 131 opioid overdose related deaths, pending toxicology results.

Prior to the Broome County vote, Poloncarz said if Erie County were chosen as the home of the center, he envisioned the facility occupying vacant public health buildings on the Erie County Medical Center campus, a location he considered noncontroversial, which could be modified using state funding. He did not estimate how much the modifications would cost.

He also said that with support from state Sen. Patrick Gallivan, he would continue to push for a state-funded center in Erie County. “Even if it passes in Broome County, then we are going to continue to try and seek additional assistance from New York State,” Poloncarz said prior to that county’s decision. “They might not be willing to support a second opioid treatment center, but we are still pushing for additional funds to help our region deal with this issue.”

email: arizzo@beenews.com

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