County ramps up opioid crisis response

VALATIE–What, exactly, is the county doing in response to the opioid abuse crisis?

At the regular Kinderhook Town Board meeting September 11, Councilwoman Patsy Leader introduced Public Health Educator Victoria McGahan, and Coordinator Kristy Frederick from the Columbia County Health Department, to discuss the county’s efforts and other health and community issues.

Also, the county issued a press release Wednesday, September 13, that county officials will host meetings in different towns over the next few months and that Kinderhook will host one of the meetings this evening, Thursday, September 14, at 6 p.m. in the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building’s gym.

In Kinderhook on Monday, Ms. McGahan and Ms. Frederick ran through several programs at the county level and Ms. Frederick brought several handouts about local and state programs.

They both talked about the county Board of Supervisors’ Opioid Epidemic Response Plan adopted in April. That plan, which can be viewed online at the county Health Department website, columbiacountyny.com/health/, talks about having a coordinator, who according to the plan, would “help identify all local advocacy groups, establish a relationship with each, and work with them to enhance their education and prevention efforts.”

There is also a section in the plan that points out the need for a detox center in the county. Ms. Frederick pointed out that currently people looking for treatment need to go outside the area. “A priority is to identity a detox facility in Columbia County,” Ms. McGahan said.

Ms. Frederick told the Kinderhook board that even though there is not a detox center here, the county is doing a lot and offered a lot of programs, including the a part-time county supported mental health clinic going into the Ichabod Crane High School this year and an increase in hours for the Mobile Crisis Assessment Team (MCAT), which operates a crisis intervention hot line and provides outreach to county residents free of charge.

“Columbia County is doing a lot with what we have,” said Ms. Frederick.

Ms. McGahan said that she started a program reaching out to seniors about safely disposing of medication. Ms. Frederick also said that Twin Counties Recovery Services, a private non-profit in the county, has information about medical drop boxes in Hudson.

“There is a problem and the school district and Town Board are dealing with it,” Ms. Frederick said of the opioid crisis.

Ms. McGahan urged people to attend the county opioid crisis response meeting this Thursday or one of the other meetings. “They are the people doing the work, boots on the ground,” she said of representatives who will be at the meeting.

Also at the meeting:

• The board opened proposals from seven different companies proposing to redesign the town’s website. The board asked former board member Peter Bujanow to review the proposals and present them to the board at a later date. Mr. Bujanow previously worked with the board to create a request for proposals for a new website

• Ms. Leader announced that the county’s KISS program, which shreds documents for the town’s seniors, will be back October 10 through October 26. Locked bins will be placed in the Martin H. Glynn Building near the Valatie Village offices. Seniors can put paperwork they need disposed of in the bins to be shredded. The program is free

• The board tabled the discussion of proposed changes that were made to the town’s zoning laws on solar equipment because the town’s attorney could not be at the meeting

• The board set budget meetings for October 4, 17 and 19 all at 6:30 p.m. all at the Martin H. Glynn Building

• Town Supervisor Pat Grattan asked that the meeting be closed in honor of Ed Habeck Jr., who died on August 31. Mr. Habeck owned Kinderhook Toyota and, as Mr. Grattan said at the meeting, was very involved in the community. Mr. Grattan called him “very generous” and said, “He will sadly be missed.”

The next regular board meeting will be Monday, October 2 at 7 p.m.

To contact reporter Emilia Teasdale email

County schedules regional opioid forums

HUDSON – In its continuing effort to confront the heroin and opioid epidemic, Columbia County is convening regional forums designed to detail the addiction treatment and recovery related services available in the county, the steps it has taken since the county board approved the Columbia County Opioid Epidemic Response Plan, and what it plans to combat the issue going forward. The Hudson Library hosted the first Forum on August 10.

The second Forum will convene at 6 p.m. on Thursday, September 14 at the Martin H. Glynn Municipal Building, Church Street, Valatie.

A 3rd Regional Forum is scheduled on September 26 at the Copake Town Hall and details for a Germantown Forum will soon be announced.

Kinderhook Supervisor Pat Grattan encourages residents to attend these important informational forums. Supervisor Grattan chairs the Columbia County Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee which oversees the county government agencies directly involved in this critical issue.

A panel discussion of county officials and community based service providers will discuss efforts their respective agencies engage in daily to address the crisis, focusing on: the County Response Plan; what the county has done to this point to stem the crisis; and available services.

The forum panelists include: Hudson 4th Ward Supervisor William Hughes, Jr.; Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett; Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka; Twin County Recovery Services, Inc. Executive Director Beth Schuster; Columbia County Department of Human Services Director Michael Cole; Catholic Charities of Columbia and Greene Counties Executive Director Theresa Lux; Columbia County Department of Health Director Jack Mabb; and, Columbia County Department of Social Services Commissioner Robert Gibson.

Sheriff Bartlett pointed out, in a press release, that “if someone on the street needs help, they can immediately contact the sheriff’s department. We’ll do what we need to do to get them the help they need.”

He noted that Twin County Recovery Services maintain a full-time presence at the jail: “When an inmate gets out, we’re working to help keep them from re-offending.” At the same time, collaborative law enforcement efforts continue working toward getting drugs off the street.

Adopted at the April meeting of the county Board of Supervisors, the Columbia County Opioid Epidemic Response Plan represented a major step toward the goal of stemming the local opioid crisis, the plan includes enforcement, education, prevention and treatment, and rehabilitation. At that time, said Chairman Matt Murell, also in the release, “Much work went into the development of the plan, but this is the first step in a long process. The county intends to follow through on this plan until each and every one who has fallen victim to this crisis has been provided with the help they need.”

For information about the Response Plan, available services, and to view a video of the August 10 forum visit www.columbiacountyny.com.

 

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