Oneida County gets $500,000 to fight overdoses

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UTICA — Oneida County was selected as one of 13 counties nationwide to receive a $500,000 grant to help fight drug overdoses, according to county executive Anthony J. Picente Jr. The money will be used by the county’s health department .

The grant to implement overdose prevention strategies at the local level was awarded by the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Funding will be used to advance several Oneida County Opioid Task Force initiatives to reduce overdose deaths.

“We are grateful to NACCHO and the CDC for providing us with these funds, which will be used primarily to expand the mobile street engagement project recently piloted in Oneida Square,” Picente said.

“This project has taken root locally, providing on-demand access to drug use treatment medicines and exceeding our expectations as nearly 100 people have started treatment with buprenorphine in just a few weeks. The positive results of this innovative approach to public health strengthened our bid for this competitive award and our determination to use these resources to bring this on-demand treatment model to all areas of the county.”

During the Street Outreach pilot period
Oneida County has also partnered with ACR Health, REACH Medical and the Upstate Family Health Center (UFHC) to provide the same on-demand access to buprenorphine treatment via telemedicine and on-site providers by establishing a local satellite health center available to drug users is located at ACR Health in Utica. Those requiring same-day buprenorphine medication can contact ACR Health at 315-793-0661.

ACR Health and UFHC will continue to work with Oneida County to expand and enhance the mobile street engagement initiative as a model for a harm reduction approach to substance use treatment that seeks to remove as many barriers as possible that a person access and continue drug-assisted treatment.

“We are excited to partner with Oneida County and UFHC to bring the services of the Drug User Health Hub to Oneida County and lead the mobile street engagement project,” said Roberto Gonzalez, prevention director of harm reduction services, ACR Health.

“We are confident that our extensive experience and proven success in working with people who use drugs without prejudice will contribute to the continued success of this program and ultimately save more lives.”

ACR Health will provide harm reduction services and connect people to treatment and other related services using peer recovery specialists, while UFHC providers will provide medications to treat substance use, as well as medical treatment for acute care needs such as wounds and abscesses, hepatitis C and other untreated chronic diseases.

Outreach will be conducted in both urban and rural high-risk areas identified in surveillance of the county’s overdose mapping application program.

“Buprenorphine is a safe and effective treatment for opioid use disorder, but so many people with the disorder are not receiving buprenorphine or any other medical treatment,” said Richard Williams, director of nursing services at the Upstate Family Health Center.

“We are excited to be part of an initiative that is breaking down the barriers to treatment and medical care that can mean the difference between life and death for so many people.”

Oneida County will also work with its Opioid Task Force partners to expand and implement additional initiatives that address all of the grant’s recommended strategies, including making connections to substance use treatment, equipping providers to make evidence-based treatment decisions, improving overdose surveillance and data sharing, promoting collaboration with public health and public safety, combating the stigma associated with substance use disorders, and implementing harm reduction activities to reduce the risks associated with drug use.

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