Toll of opioid addiction in county drops… for now

HUDSON–“I don’t want to jinx this by saying it, but so far there have been no fatal overdoses in Columbia County this year,” Michael Cole, Director of Community Services for Columbia County told the County Community Services Board (CSB) May 29. He cited the Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program for his information.

His report prompted a meeting attendee to say, “There certainly hasn’t been a drop in addiction.”

“There’s no proof, but I think Narcan is making a difference,” said Mr. Cole.

Narcan is the nasal spray form of Naloxone, a medication that can reverse rapidly the effects of opioid overdoses, if applied quickly enough. It “was developed to be used at home without the need for any medical training,” says www.narcan.com. However, people at the meeting mentioned problems finding and paying for Narcan. Pharmacies sell Narcan kits, but some have only a few in stock at a time. In addition, the co-pay for them can be high.

In a related matter, Claire Parde of the Columbia County Community Health Care Consortium said, “one of the most perverse things about our system is that the best thing that could happen” for a 28-year-old who has been addicted since 14 and is “not ready for recovery” would be to go to jail, where, there are programs for addicts.

Also on May 29:

• The CSB adopted its 2020 Local Government Unit Plan. The key concerns include transportation, housing, staffing, and tele-health (where clients consult with healthcare providers via video)

• Mr. Cole reported that the County Jail population has dropped. “That should be good,” he said, but added that it is “ironic” after building up programs at the jail the number of prisoners had decreased

• Jeffrey Rovitz, executive director of the Mental Health Association of Columbia-Greene Counties, reported, “We’re going to look at the Galvan Hotel. The hope is that it will open in July.” The Galvan Hotel in Greenport is under construction and will be used as emergency housing for people without homes referred there by the county Department of Human Services.

At a meeting the previous day, May 28, of the CSB’s Intellectual/ Developmental Disabilities Subcommittee:

• Mr. Cole called attention to a county Special Needs Registry and its value in times of emergency. The county website, under “popular links,” describes the Registry as “for those individuals with medical conditions who require assistance, have medical devices that utilize electricity, are non-ambulatory, or have restricted mobility…. so that emergency personnel can check in on you” in the event of an emergency, such as a power outage with loss of phone service. The site promises will make every effort to assist people who call subject to resource availability.

The Registry “is a great service,” Mr. Cole said. “I urge our partner agencies to add people to the registry.”

Carolynn Anklam, chief quality officer of Coarc and co-chair of the subcommittee urged attendees to make sure anyone who is blind, in a wheelchair or on a respirator are on the registry

• Mr, Cole agreed with an observation that many developmentally disabled people have “a technological addiction.” Ms. Anklam noted that spending a lot of time online “is isolating.”

Concern was raised that some people with disabilities have done inappropriate things on the internet without knowing it. The discussion included the need to teach people with disabilities to identify and avoid inappropriate online content and behavior

The next meeting of the CSB’s Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Subcommittee, Tuesday, September 24 will focus on self-advocacy.

The next meeting of the full Columbia County CSB will take place Wednesday, September 25, at noon, at 325 Columbia Street, Hudson.

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