Poloncarz, Burstein Join Downstate Counterparts To Discuss Opioid Abuse Epidemic, Plan of Action

Modified: January 12, 2017 6:23pm

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Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz was joined today by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein in a visit to Dutchess County, where they participated in an open forum with Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro along with representatives from Ulster, Putnam, Rockland and Orange counties to discuss the findings of the National Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Abuse and to review policy and partnership solutions recommended by the Task Force. County Executive Poloncarz is the sole New York State local government representative on the National Task Force, which is composed of 22 elected leaders from counties and cities across the nation.

“I thank County Executive Molinaro for hosting this meeting and for working proactively to stem the tide of opioid abuse in the downstate and Mid-Hudson Valley areas. This epidemic is claiming lives across the state and the country, but by working together we can put programs in place that can effectively combat the problem,” said Poloncarz. “In the upcoming weeks Dr. Burstein and I will be joining a number of other County Executives and elected officials as we travel across New York and the Northeast to talk about the Task Force report and dialogue with community members on actions they can take to confront the issue in their own area. No one government, agency, or group can do it on their own, but fresh thinking and new collaborations are what is needed for success.”

“The heroin and opioid abuse epidemic is growing, and it cannot and should not be ignored. There are too many individuals and families in our communities at risk,” said Dutchess County Executive Molinaro. “This is an opportunity for us as local leaders to come together to discuss best practices and policies to address this issue now. With overdose rates steadily increasing, there is no time to waste.”

“This collaborative approach by local leaders is intended to bolster our respective efforts to mitigate the opioid crisis and strengthen the safety and security of our neighborhoods. These regional dialogues are designed to encourage community leaders to discuss the issues related to this crisis, growing trends, and proven responses,” said Matt Chase, Executive Director of the National Association of Counties.

“As county leaders, we are entrusted with preserving the health and safety of our communities. It is our duty to do whatever we can to help break the cycles of addiction, overdose, and death that have taken hold in so many corners of this state,” said Schoharie County Treasurer William E. Cherry, President of the New York State Association of Counties, which is coordinating the regional events across the state.

The National Task Force report, “A Prescription for Action: Local Leadership in Ending the Opioid Crisis”, contains recommendations for leaders at all governmental levels to collaborate in fighting opioid abuse. The best practices-based recommendations are aimed at city and county officials and provide templates for community leadership and regional cooperation, increasing public awareness and education, expanding treatment, and reassessing public safety and law enforcement approaches to the opioid crisis. Actions that can be completed at the state and federal levels are also outlined, along with numerous “Tools and Examples” of anti-opioid programs that have seen success across the country.

The full contents of the report are available at http://www.opioidaction.org/ .