HUDSON–Columbia and Greene counties introduced their joint Addiction Recovery Coordinator, Danielle Hotaling, at a media event October 23. Ms. Hotaling is “coordinating all information” about services available—public, private and non-profit–for people who suffer because of substance abuse. This will make it easier for people to go to the web and accurately identify and find the services they need,” said Beth Schuster, executive director of Twin County Recovery Services, Inc.
Ms. Hotaling will report to three officials: Michael Cole, Columbia County director of Human Services; Maggie Graham, Greene County director of Community Services; and Ms. Schuster. Each of the two counties will pay half of Ms. Hotaling’s salary.
Hiring an addiction recovery coordinator was one goal of the Columbia-Greene Addiction Coalition (CGAC) in response to the opioid abuse crisis. “Both of our counties are among the highest in the state for this problem,” said Ms. Schuster.
Ms. Hotaling began her new position October 1. She comes from Project Safe Point, a harm reduction program in Albany, where she was lead case manager. She has an MA in social welfare from SUNY at Albany, now lives in Greene County; she is originally from Columbia County.
“The ability to partner with Columbia County is a new slant,” said Shaun Groden, Greene County administrator. “This is one of our biggest collaborations.”
“I can’t agree with Shaun more,” said Matt Murell, chairman of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors. “Together we bring a lot of strength. Our twin counties are aligned. I’m looking forward to working with Greene County. Our law enforcement companies are doing a great job. We need prevention, education, treatment and rehabilitation.”
Several other speakers also praised the collaboration between the two counties and expressed gratitude to the legislators of both counties for supporting and funding the addiction recovery coordinator.
Greene County legislator Aiden O’Connor, Jr., said, “We have so many services and opportunities. How do we bring them together with the people who need them?” He believes that will happen through the addiction recovery coordinator.
Ms. Graham said that working with Mr. Cole has been a “wonderful opportunity. More people want to make a difference.”
Mr. Cole said, “This is not about flooding the community with services. It’s about people knowing what the services are, knowing what the obstacles to using them are.” He characterized substance abuse as “a public health crisis, a stigmatizing condition. “
“Agencies and law enforcement too often didn’t work together,” said Columbia County Sheriff David Bartlett. Now, he said, “all of us working together are making Columbia County a better place to live.” He also praised care coordinators who come to the jail, determine what services individual inmates need, and arrange for them to get these services when they are released.
Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka said it is good for taxpayers to have made the appointment collaboratively.
“The opioid epidemic doesn’t have boarders,” said Keith Stack, the legislative aide for opioid issues in Columbia County.
In spring 2017, legislators in Columbia and Greene counties called for action to confront the opioid abuse crisis. The CGAC was developed to lead that action, with the “support, direction, and authority of both” county legislatures, and Mr. Cole and Ms. Graham as co-chairs.