Immediately following his announcement that he was seeking the office of Chautauqua County Executive, Legislator George Borrello released his “Elevating Chautauqua County Plan.” Within that document was a summary of Borrello’s plan to combat the opioid crisis facing Chautauqua County.
In the two months following the release of the plan, Borrello has been meeting with those individuals and organizations who have been engaged with the opioid crisis over the past several years. The statistics shared with Borrello are simply staggering. These include:
• A 493% increase of people diagnosed with opioid disorders between 2010 and 2016 according to Blue Cross/Blue Shield
• The rate of opioid use disorder diagnoses has grown by nearly 8 times the rate of the most effective treatments
• Drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death among Americans under age 50. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) New York State saw a 20.4% increase in overdose deaths from 2014-2015
In examining the role the County Executive can have in combating this expanding scourge that plays no favorites among age, gender, race, or class, Borrello said, “The opioid crisis affects us all, not just users and their families. We are all exposed to the crime that follows alongside addiction as well as the lost productivity among our workforce. Our safety and general quality of life is also impacted. Communities become less safe and less attractive to live in. It is the job of the County Executive to LEAD. We cannot just talk our way out of the problem. Where action is required, action will be taken.”
If elected as County Executive on November 7th, Borrello intends to implement the Countywide Alliance for Enforcement and Rehabilitation (CAER – pronounced “care”).
Borrello will implement CAER in January of 2018.
The CAER Task Force will include:
• Chautauqua County Law Enforcement
• Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office
• Chautauqua County Health Department / Social Services / Mental Hygiene Department
• Hospitals / Drug Treatment Clinics
• Peer Support Groups
• Advocacy Groups
This will be a multi-disciplinary approach to a problem that must be defeated. Chautauqua County will take the lead in this Task Force. Benchmarks will be established and mileposts set to measure progress. Borrello clearly believes it is the job of the County Executive to oversee the process, break down the barriers that currently exist in eliminating the problem, and collectively establish goals and objectives, which he will personally monitor and oversee on the path to resolution.
A three-pronged approach will be implemented in January of 2018. These components include:
• Law Enforcement
• Prevention and Education
Better coordination is needed between the various drug task forces that currently exist in Chautauqua County. Drug dealers do not confine their criminal activity to just one jurisdiction. To combat this criminal business model, Borrello will appoint a county coordinator to act as a liaison between Chautauqua County’s law enforcement agencies.
Borrello will also support the appointment of a special narcotics prosecutor within the Chautauqua County District Attorney’s Office. This will help to ensure drug-related offenses are moved through the system quickly and drug dealers are removed from the streets, rather than sent back out to commit more crimes while their case is waiting for resolution.
Additionally, Borrello will work with the Sheriff’s Department, the county Health Department and the county Community Justice Council to explore innovative treatment solutions within the jail population. Including the possibility of a creating a special Recovery Pod within the county jail system to address inmate addiction and ultimately reduce the jail population.
In order to fund these initiatives, grant opportunities will be sought out. Also, the fiscal impact of these initiatives on reducing the cost of prosecution and incarceration will also be considered.
Prevention and Education:
Much of the discussion concerning the opioid crisis centers around treating those addicted to opioids. While this is important, we would be in a much better position today if we could prevent people from ever using opioids, as well as other narcotics. Borrello will work with the Chautauqua Alcohol and Substance Abuse Council (CASAC) to advance a plan to get their programming into more schools and youth programs throughout Chautauqua County, so our young people can be educated on preventing substance abuse. This will likely require coordination with law enforcement and the various school districts in Chautauqua County
Borrello will continue to support peer organizations such as the Mental Health Association (MHA). Currently, Chautauqua County provided more than $113,000 in funds to support the MHA this year alone. These are funds that come to the county from the New York State Office of Mental Health to support peer services. The County through the local governmental unit (LGU) and the Community Services Board designated the MHA to receive the funds. The funds flow through a contract between Chautauqua County and the MHA.
In a June meeting held between Borrello’s opponent for County Executive and the MHA, it was incorrectly stated to a reporter from the Post-Journal who was covering the meeting that the MHA relies solely on grants and donations, and no county money is provided to the MHA. This is not factually correct. In fact, funding which was obtained through grants with no local share, was provided to the Mental Health Association to assist in the important work they do with peer counseling and intervention. As County Executive, Borrello will continue to fight for funding for the MHA and other groups on the front lines of this epidemic.
Additionally, in that same meeting Borrello’s opponent indicated he would begin a treatment program that would offer Vivitrol and Suboxone. Those medication assisted treatments already currently exist in Chautauqua County. The Department of Mental Hygiene (CCDMH), which has clinics in both the north and south county, with no waiting lists, already offers both treatment options (Vivitrol and Suboxone). Those drugs are also part of a treatment protocol at UPMC Chautauqua WCA, The Resource Center, and many other private providers in our county. Further, WCA will have a licensed residential treatment facility open the first quarter of 2018 at the Jones Hill facility. Borrello will continue to support those treatment facilities.
Additional information concerning this press release can be obtained by contacting Borrello at (716) 913-8885. Information concerning Borrello’s “Elevating Chautauqua County Plan” can be viewed by visiting his website “voteborrello.com” or “Facebook.com/voteborrello.”