Oneida County launches new website to help prevent overdose opioid deaths


FILE – This Aug. 29, 2018, file photo shows an arrangement of prescription oxycodone pills in New York. U.S. health officials are again warning doctors against abandoning chronic pain patients by abruptly stopping their opioid prescriptions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services instead urged doctors Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019, to share such decisions with patients. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)

ONEIDA COUNTY (WSYR-TV) — Oneida County, along with the Sheriff’s office and the District Attorney’s office, announced the launch of a new website for the county’s opioid task force aimed at preventing overdose deaths. 

Also announced, were two new Task Force initiatives: 

Street Engagement Teams

Rapid response multi-agency teams formed to do boots-on-the-ground outreach and engagement in areas where data and community members have identified as “hot spots” with issues of mental health, substance use, homelessness and/or unmet social service needs. 

  • These teams will seek to build one-on-one connections while providing access to “street medicine” where a person can receive same-day, low-barrier medication for substance use, medicine for acute care needs, Hepatitis C testing and treatment, COVID-19 vaccination, Naloxone, on-demand counseling with licensed behavioral health providers, as well as linkages to other support services such as food and housing. 
  • Outreach teams will be deployed to Oneida Square in Utica and in Camden to start, with plans to replicate the model and deploy teams to other high-risk communities as the need arises. 

Narcan Emergency Cabinets

Oneida County has purchased 100 Narcan Emergency Cabinets to distribute to various entities and local businesses. These cabinets, which are very similar to publicly-sited Automated External Defibrillator (AED) machines, are secure metal units that each contain two doses of Narcan nasal spray along with instructions for its use. 

  • When appropriately deployed in specific locations with high rates of opioid overdose, the units are intended to increase access to naloxone during the time of a life-threatening emergency/suspected opioid overdose. 
  • Interested entities can apply to receive a cabinet by filling out an online form. Priority distribution will be given to sites that are located in areas of high opioid overdose/burden. 

“Today we remember those lives lost too soon because of drug overdoses in our community and acknowledge the profound grief experienced by the family and friends they’ve left behind,” said Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr., who serves as co-chair of the Opioid Task Force. “It is especially tragic when we know that those deaths could have been prevented. Thankfully, the partnerships we have formed through our Opioid Task Force, and the commitment we have made to preventing further loss, is making a difference every single day.” 

Progress was reported on other on-going Task Force initiatives as well, including: 

Post-Overdose Peer Outreach Program 

  • Through a partnership with ACR Health, within 72 hours of a reported overdose in Overdose Detection Mapping Application Program (ODMAP), Peer Recovery Advocates with “lived experience” contact survivors directly, often with home visits. They offer a direct path to treatment and overdose education and other support services. 
  • Since 2019, the Task Force has linked 133 overdose survivors to treatment and/or other support services. 

Leave Behind Naloxone Program 

  • The Task Force’s Overdose Response Team continues to work closely with Midstate EMS to expand participation in its Leave Behind Naloxone Program which allows first responders to distribute “leave behind” naloxone kits on the scene of an overdose for individuals at high risk for future overdoses. 
  • Year-to-date, there have been 288 overdose reversals by first responders. 
  • The Task Force announced that the Rome and Camden Fire Departments are now participating in the program, joining the Oneida County Sheriff’s Office, Utica Fire Department and Whitesboro Police Department. 

Overdose Care Kits 

  • The Task Force is distributing overdose care kits that can be disseminated to people at high-risk of overdose. The kits include some basic supplies and overdose prevention resources that can also help facilitate conversations and engagement. 
  • The kits are designed to save lives and communicate care and understanding to drug users and to open doors to engagement and treatment services. 

You can view today’s press conference here: 

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