Our June 25, 2017 Letter to Broome County Executive Jason Garnar

We are tired of waiting for the county to take action. It is long past time for them to be responsible in their roles to protect the public. See our letter to County Executive Jason Garnar below. Be sure to click the news links to see what he thought should be done PRIOR to being elected.

We have been calling on the county to track and report overdose deaths and reversals since August of 2015. Here we are, nearly two years later, still waiting.

Call County Executive Garnar today and ask him when he’ll start doing all the things he was demanding of the last administration.

June 25, 2017

Jason Garnar
Broome County Executive
60 Hawley Street
Binghamton, NY 13901

Dear County Executive Jason Garnar,

On June 24, 2017 the Village of Johnson City Police issued a warning about a surge in heroin overdoses, including three fatalities. We thanked them for their proactive approach in alerting their community. Due to their proactive approach, Truth Pharm and STAP worked together to immediately respond by advertising, promoting and handing out life-saving Naloxone kits during a three-hour time-slot on Sunday. Twenty-four people were trained and obtained kits.

This is what the response to a public health emergency looks like.

Also, due to their proactive approach, the news media published stories about the overdoses and the handing out of Naloxone kits, which caused hundreds of people in Broome County to engage in conversations about the opioid epidemic. In addition, hundreds of people were educated about: the dangers of using alone; the need to call 911; a particularly strong or ‘bad’ batch of heroin that was circulating; harm reduction practices they could use to reduce overdoses; and the lifesaving medication Naloxone. Conversations that our community desperately needs. In addition, two people reached out to Truth Pharm and will be placed into inpatient treatment tomorrow.

On February 23, 2017 you attended our in-depth presentation to local elected officials outlining the dire need for both care and harm reduction approaches in Broome County. We also made it clear that tracking of overdose data – both deaths and successful revivals – is the responsibility of our county government and needs to be done accurately, consistently and actively reported to the public.

We have seen zero progress on this front. We have been making requests for this information since August of 2015, we are approaching two years since then, over one hundred deaths and thousands of overdoses with no change to the system.

Prior to being elected as County Executive, you agreed that the community should be notified. We have communications from you to us directly stating so and ridiculing the prior administration for not being responsible in doing so. And you made your opinion public to the media.  On August 12, 2016, WICZ started a report about overdoses with this line: “Broome County Executive Candidate Jason Garnar called for a public health warning on heroin overdoses Thursday night.” And later in the article included this as well, “Jason Garnar says it is a health risk when the public isn’t notified.” Garnar Calls for Public Health Warning   Garnar Wants Better Accounting by the County

On August 11, 2016, in an article published by the Press & Sun Bulletin: “First and foremost, Broome County needs to declare a public health emergency,” said Garnar, the Democrat challenging Preston in the November election. But “what I’m more concerned about is it seems our county executive is not saying anything about this. We should be doing everything possible to get the word out there that something is out there that is killing people left and right.” The website for that article includes a video of you stating how important it is for the County Executive to release CURRENT information to the public in order to save lives.  Garnar calls on Broome to Declare Opioid Emergency

It is nearly one year since you made those strong statements and you’ve been in office for six months. But, where is your action? Why aren’t you releasing notices to the public? You are now the one responsible to ensure the public is notified.

As we have in the past, we could provide multiple examples of other counties in New York State who are actively tracking and releasing overdose data, but we trust you can google and immediately find plenty of results just as easily as we can.

We also know this data already exists for the county. We recently learned that the county is planning to participate in a program to release all overdose data (deaths and reversals) to a mapping program run by the DEA. That mapped data will not be accessible by the public, but is utilized in drug investigations. We are beyond sickened to learn that the county is choosing to participate in an enforcement and further criminalization program as their priority over participating in issuing public health warnings and participating in harm reduction practices with data you ALREADY HAVE.

Your goal must be to save lives.

We are again requesting that the County Health Department immediately begin to take responsibility for counting the deaths of our loved ones due to substance use related causes and issuing that information to the public. This responsibility does not belong to the District Attorney, this is a health issue and belongs to our county health department.

We also want to remind you that funding from the state and federal government depends on accurately reporting both overdose and death data to state officials. We are being bypassed for funding, new programs and attention because our issues are not accurately reported.

Though it seems much of what was written in our letter of February 23, 2017, including working together cooperatively, has been ignored, we’ll attach the letter as a reminder of what we called for four months ago, please be sure to review request #3 which we’ll include below. The optimism we expressed in our letter is waning, but we as an organization continue to do the work necessary to save lives. You, as the County Executive, declared this opioid crisis a Public Health Emergency. With that declaration comes serious responsibility on your part.

  1. County Departments that responsibly track and publicize data in a timely manner including:
  • Naloxone uses by all departments and the number of doses required
  • Overdose deaths
  • Deaths by other causes, but linked to substance use
  • Criminal acts related to substance use disorders
  • Incarceration rates related to substance use disorders
  • Success rates of various forms of treatment
  • A public calendar of all events offered by providers, support groups and grassroots organizations
  • A comprehensive list of treatment options, modalities and services within our region, allowing individual organizations to add their information and website links

Sincerely,

Alexis Pleus
Founder and Executive Director

cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYS Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker

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2016 – A Year of Rainmaking!

So, “what,” you ask “does a Rainmaker do?”

What does Truth Pharm do?

Well, Rainmakers are change-makers, game-changers, powerhouses, people who refuse to accept no for an answer. They are optimistic, driven and produce results. Despite current negative conditions, they work to overcome. When a challenging problem exists with no apparent or clear solution – a Rainmaker will find and create solutions! They will take action.

That’s a Rainmaker – and that is what Truth Pharm is made up of. People who will create change and WILL have an impact on this epidemic.

Per our mission:  Truth Pharm works to raise awareness, reduce the stigma, educate the public and advocate for policy and law changes surrounding substance use and treatment.

And here is a summary of how we went about creating change in 2016!

Awareness and Outreach Events:

  • Hosts for Hancock Awareness Event – 2/11/16 – 70 attendees
  • Guest Speaker for Bainbridge Guilford Afton Awareness event hosted by Lourdes and Senator Akshar 3/9/16 – 350 attendees
  • Tabled at Children’s Wyoming Conference Home Event Binghamton NY – 3/10/16
  • Mind and Magic 3/11/16 – 40 attendees
  • Tabled at The Forks 15 Run Chenango Forks NY – 3/20/16
  • Hosted Walton Awareness Event – 4/13/16 – 140 attendees
  • 1st Annual Jamison Turkow Memorial Walk – 5/7/16 – 300 attendees
  • Hosted Awareness Event Sherburne Earlville – 5/23/16 – 150 attendees
  • Free Hugs Event – 8/5/16 – contact with over 300 people
  • Trail of Truth – International Overdose Awareness Day Walk – 8/31/16 – 350 attendees
  • Illuminating Truth – First Friday Art Walk – street painting, recovery awareness, community resources, recovery celebration, building projection during LUMA – 9/2/16 – 400 attendees
  • Trail of Truth Redo due to county removing our memorial – 9/7/16 – 80 attendees
  • Tabled at Clinton Street Business Fair Binghamton NY – 9/10/16
  • Tabled at Apple Fest Endicott NY – 9/17/16
  • Tabled at Mural Fest Binghamton NY – 9/17/17
  • Presented to Jenny F. Snapp PATS committee regarding parent education Truth Pharm could provide – 10/4/16 – 25 attendees
  • Trunk or Treat – family trick or treating and Awareness event – 10/15/16 – 150 attendees
  • Tabled at 5th Annual Chocolate Festival by Addictions Center of Broome County – 11/6/16
  • Alexis Pleus served on panel of speakers for Roosevelt Institute at Binghamton University to unveil the Binghamton Blueprint – 11/14/16
  • Tabled at the Thankful Jam – 11/22/16
  • Alexis Pleus spoke at New York State SEFA Luncheon about Truth Pharm and the Epidemic – 12/1/16 – 35 attendees
  • Total 2390 attendees reached through awareness events + countless individuals at tabling events

 

Education:

  • Provided 4 hour PAARI Angel Training Oxford, NY – 2/27/16 – 45 attendees
  • Hancock NY – Understanding Signs, Symptoms and Behaviors of Substance Use Disorders – 3/10/16 – 45 attendees
  • Alexis Pleus Keynote speaker at Genesee County Victims Week Conference 4/12/16 – 200 attendees
  • Developing empathy and understanding for people suffering from Substance Use Disorders, Otego, NY – 4/19/16 – 15 attendees
  • Walton NY – Roundtable event – 5/25/16 – 30 attendees
  • Sherburne Earlville NY – Roundtable event – 6/21/16 – 25 attendees
  • Garden of Hope – Monthly education meetings for families – May-Dec. 2016 – 20-50 attendees each event
  • Alexis Pleus speaker for District Attorney’s SAFE Families Program – 8/11/16 – 50 attendees
  • Alexis Pleus speaker for Oxford Community Conversations on Drugs and Use in the Community – 10/20/16 – 50 attendees
  • Hosted John Barry of Southern Tier AIDS Program (STAP) to discuss Safe Injection Sites – 11/17/16 – 35 attendees
  • Total 640 attendees provided in-depth education.

 

Naloxone Training:

  • Hancock NY (STAP) – 2/17/16 – 45 attendees
  • Otego NY (STAP) – 4/19/16 – 15 attendees
  • Walton NY (STAP) – 4/20/16 – 35 attendees
  • Turkow Walk (STAP) – 5/7/16 – 15 referrals to training
  • Binghamton NY (STAP) – 5/26/16 – 25 attendees
  • Walton NY (STAP) – 6/1/16 – 20 attendees
  • Sherburne Earlville NY (STAP) 6/16/16 – 20 attendees
  • 20 families referred directly to STAP for training
  • Total 200 people trained on Naloxone use
  • 9 overdose reversals, 9 lives have been saved using Naloxone kits obtained through sessions hosted by Truth Pharm

School Events:

  • High school assembly in Hancock NY 8th – 12th graders – 5/13/16 – 150 students
  • High school assembly in Oxford NY 9th – 12th graders – 5/18/16 – 150 students
  • High School Assembly in Oxford NY 9th-12th graders – 12/23/16 – 80 students
  • Total 380 school students educated

Community Response Action Plans:

  • Hancock NY – Results: 3 events hosted, a open recreation time for youth created, counselling offered by local pastor – January – March 2016
  • Walton NY – Results: 4 events hosted, a family support group formed, police carrying Naloxone, Police Chief and Mayor developing programs for the county for Substance Use Recovery Supports – March – May 2016
  • Sherburne Earlville NY – Results: 3 events hosted, local company to host corporate education, a family support group created, a lasting branch of Truth Pharm created, Mayor writes letter of support to County for PAARI Program, Police support addition of prescription drop box and sharps disposal in the village – April–June 2016
  • Delhi NY – Results: 2 community events hosted – July–Oct. 2016
  • Total of 4 communities in 3 counties empowered, educated and with long-lasting impacts

National/Federal Involvement:

  • Teleconference with Michael Boticelli – 2/2/16
  • Placed on Facing Addiction Action Committee – (monthly meetings) Feb 2016
  • Attended Hill Day June 2016
  • Alexis Pleus attended “Addiction, a White House Discussion”, White House, DC – 6/7/16
  • Alexis Pleus invited to SAMHSA to provide input on materials to be produced for families who have lost a loved one – 10/27/16

Police & Criminal Justice Outreach:

  • Laid the ground work for Broome County Sheriff’s Office to start a local PAARI Program – 2015
  • Provided program outline for treatment and Vivitrol program at Broome County Jail – 2015
  • Collaborated with Oxford Police to create Oxford Road to Recovery Program, provided volunteer training, host Facebook page, assist with placements, rides and troubleshooting program – Feb.-Dec. 2016 – Placed 28 people in treatment in 2016
  • Assisted District Attorney Cornwell’s SAFE Program Feb.-April 2016
  • Meet with Chenango County to discuss Oxford, NY program – 3/17/16
  • Met with Walton NY Police to discuss carrying naloxone and reducing stigma – 4/5/17
  • Met with Sherburne Earlville Village Police to discuss naloxone and reducing stigma – 7/7/16
  • Met with Binghamton Drug Court, Judge Pellela – 7/22/16
  • Presentation for Penn Yan Heroin Task force on PAARI programs and how to create one in their community – 10/26/16
  • Met with Chenango County Sheriff’s Office to explore options to institute a PAARI Program – 11/15/16

Jail/Incarceration Outreach:

  • Visited two people in Broome County jail to discuss their future and desire to obtain treatment.
  • Assisted three families in advocating for their loved ones while incarcerated at Broome County Jail to be evaluated and then transferred directly to treatment at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services.
  • Assisted three people and their families to seek and obtain placement in Drug Court to reduce incarceration.
  • Assisted several families to successfully advocate or their loved ones to be place in treatment instead of jail.

Obtaining Treatment, System Navigation, Family Awareness and Education:

  • Assisted more than 50 people in navigating the treatment system and to obtain treatment. Paid for many flights, months of sober living, treatment fees, bus tickets, etc.
  • Assisted more than 200 families through direct contact in understanding their loved ones’ substance use disorder, how to communicate with them and now to navigate the system to obtain help or treatment.

Corporate Education:

  • Provided Employee sensitivity and awareness training for VOA Men’s home – 3/2/16
  • Provided employee sensitivity and awareness training for Sidney Federal Credit Union – 5/17/16
  • Met with Frontier Communications to educate them on the epidemic and what they can do as an employer – 9/21/16

Collaboration Projects:

  • Assisted District Attorney Cornwell’s SAFE Program Feb.-April 2016
  • Seat on Tioga County Community Task Force for Addiction Epidemic (monthly meetings)– 2016
  • Senator Akshar’s Heroin Task Force (quarterly meetings) – 2016
  • Joined JUST – Justice and Unity in the Southern Tier (monthly meetings) – May-Dec. 2016
  • Participated in forum hosted by Assemblyman Al Stirpe to discuss resources to address Substance Use Disorders in NY – 9/22/16

Media:

  • Interview on WIX Radio – 2/3/16
  • Interview with WICZ 2/4/16, 2/22/16, 3/21/16, 8/9/16
  • Participated in WSKG Community Conversation on Opioid Epidemic 2/9/16
  • Kingfisher Project Radio Interview 2/15/16
  • Press & Sun Bulletin Interview 2/16/16, 3/30/16, 7/19/16, 7/28/16
  • WNBF with Roger Neal 3/3/16
  • The Guardian, Chris Arnade – 3/13/16
  • Alexis Pleus has article published in The Fix 2/17/16
  • Kingfisher Project 4/5/16, 5/2/16, 5/9/16, 5/16/16
  • WNBF with Bob Joseph – 8/12/16

Advocacy:

  • Invited to speak at NY Senate Heroin Task Force in Penn Yan – 2/23/16 – 150 attendees
  • Advocated in Albany, met with over 60 Assemblypersons and Senators on a total of 13 visits between February and June 2016
  • Spoke at Governor Cuomo’s Heroin Task Force event at Binghamton University – 5/31/16 – 60 attendees
  • Attended Broome County Legislature meetings to advocate for appropriate spending for opioid epidemic – 10/13/16
  • Met with City of Binghamton to explore ways they can help with the epidemic – 11/9/16

Training:

  • Attended Rotary Luncheon with Jill Halford-Hammit as speaker 2/23/16
  • How communities can work together Webinar – 3/23/16
  • NYCON Board member training Webinar – 3/24/16
  • 8 hour training course – Core Principles Substance Use Treatment – Broome County – 3/30/16
  • NYCON marketing Webinar – 4/21/16
  • All about AA support – ATTC Webinar – 4/21/16
  • Obtained Certification as Naloxone Trainer NY Health Dept. at Tioga County – 4/25/16
  • SAMHSA Chronic Pain Management Webinar – 4/26/16
  • SAMHSA webinar – 4/27/16
  • NYCON Webinar – 4/28/16
  • Attended SAMHSA Hill Day – 6/6-6/7/16
  • Attended Medical Assisted Treatment Training – Broome Co. Drug Court – 8/10/16
  • Mental Health First Aid training – MHAST – 9/20/16
  • Attended Media Summit training for nonprofits by RVSA – 9/23/16
  • Attended NYCON Camp Finance on scholarship – 10/6-10/7/16
  • Attended the Harm Reduction Conference on scholarship 11/2-11/6/16
  • Attended the unveiling of the Surgeon General’s Report on Addiction hosted by Facing Addiction 11/17/16
  • Attended Integrative Harm Reduction Therapy – 24 hour training by Andrew Tatarsky – 12/2-12/4/16

Grants & Fundraising:

  • Applied for $5k for Constitution Pipeline Grant for Naloxone outreach to EMS agencies – awarded $2k for purchase of kits only
  • Applied for $5k for Community Foundation of South Central NY Grant for Tioga County Community Response Action Plans – awarded $2,500
  • A total of $31,910 raised through fundraising events and individual donations
  • Total Year Budget = $36,410.

*2016 was the first year of our 501c3. Since we did not have nonprofit status in 2015, no fundraisers were hosted, no donations were accepted or EVER collected. ALL efforts in 2015 were financially supported and provided by Founder and Director Alexis Pleus.

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Calling All New York State Coalitions, Support Groups, Awareness Groups, Advocacy Groups

Greetings all!

I wonder if you’ll bear with me to hear a personal story.

Last fall, I attended the FedUp Rally, Facing Addiction and Hill Day which were all back to back in D.C. All incredibly powerful events where I learned so much and was inspired by speaker after speaker.

But, believe it or not, the most inspiring 3 hours of the entire 5 days I was in Washington D.C. was spent in a room with 20 people pulled together by Nancy Carter Williams. Who were they? They were people hand selected by Nancy that she felt have accomplished incredible feats, have developed unique ways to raise awareness and were having a powerful impact on the opioid epidemic and BOY was she right! I was invited to speak and present for Truth Pharm and by the time it was my turn to speak, I felt minuscule in comparison to what I had heard from the people who went before me.

Two of the most inspiring people we heard from that day were two women from Kentucky. They told of a story about several bills being up for vote in Kentucky that everyone was sure would pass. They said they did the thing we all do – the shared the information on facebook, they made phone calls, sent emails and it seemed these bills would pass, after all, the state was facing an epidemic and these bills were SO important. When it came time for the bills to be voted on, they did not pass and the group was devastated. A group of moms decided the next session of the legislature, they would be at the capitol every day the legislature was in session and they would NOT leave until the bills passed. And they did just that.

I know many of us have different opinions about what can or should be done. There is a LOT Truth Pharm wants from our state government, but one thing I THINK we would all agree on is that currently, insurers are controlling how much treatment our loved ones get, and the amount of time is woefully low. We are seeing an average of 9 days being approved by insurance, which sets our loved ones up for a 90% relapse rate.

There is a bill in our State Senate AND Assembly this year that we have been calling “The 90 Day Bill”. Remarkably, the bill that was written in the Senate, was written by a Republican and our Senate is Republican led and the bill written in the Assembly was written by a Democrat and our Assembly is Democrat led.

This means, two things. 1. a shorter span of time to move the bill forward and 2. the bill has a fantastic chance of passing.

But, it will NOT pass this session unless we can get the bill to move forward. And to get it to move forward, we need face to face time with our political leaders asking them to please sign on as cosponsors and to urge their colleagues to move the bill forward.

Truth Pharm has taken 4 trips to Albany and we have several more dates coming up: May 10, 11, 24 and June 2 and 24th and we may add more days. You could go with us, meet us there, plan your own trip, go separately, whatever you like, but we should all work together to make this happen. We can only do this with everyone’s help.

People were telling us yesterday we had a good chance of getting this passed ‘next session’… let’s make it happen THIS SESSION!

If you’d like to be involved, please fill out this survey: Click Here for Survey.

To see Truth Pharm’s Advocacy Agenda for 2016, click here.

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Alexis Pleus and Penny Stringfield of Truth Pharm featured in The Guardian Article by Chris Arnade

Penny emailed me and said, I met this guy, he’s the real deal. His name is Chris Arnade, he writes for The Guardian and he wants to know what’s happening in our area.

I was having a particularly rough and down week emotionally. I know the scale of The Guardian and I was familiar of Chris’ work, but I wondered if I could muster the energy to leave the house for yet one more meeting that week. He contacted me before I had a chance to reach out to him and asked about getting together to talk over the weekend. We decided to meet for coffee on a Saturday morning.

I did my typical, got up and had coffee at home. Got on the computer and got lost. Before I knew it, it was past time to go see him and I hadn’t even showered. I threw on a headband and clothes, half washed my face, put on some moisturizer and deodorant and raced to Binghamton. On my way there, I attempted to text him to let him know I was running late and realized I failed to pay my cell phone bill and my phone was shut off. I almost turned around and went home.

Here I was, leaving the house when I didn’t want to, a phone not working because I didn’t pay the bill, unshowered – all evidence of the depression I had sunk into heading to meet a nationally known writer to talk about a topic that I am passionate about and yet, adds to my sadness.

I hoped as I always do, that we would be talking about Truth Pharm. Talking about the problem at large. Talking about the thousands lost, the millions struggling.

I got there and found him quickly. I was beyond ‘fashionably late’ and he was immediately forgiving. He appeared to be as far behind in showering as I was and I settled down.

He immediately started his interview – all about my personal life. Right from the beginning of my life and I felt uneasy. Why about me? I even asked him. I have so little to do with this. But, he was so genuine, I got the impression that he is like me, he simply loves to know every element of a person – and their entire life’s story. So, there I sat, telling him my story from the time of being a child to the point of losing my own child. He took a few notes. He picked up on my depression and asked about it. He loved that I was an engineer said I should get back to building bridges. A couple hours later, he said he was going for a walk and I was heading home. All the way home, I wished I had stayed. There was just something about him. I could have hung out with him for days, I’m certain.

As I waited the weeks following for his story to come out, I became increasingly anxious. We talked about so much over the course of those two hours, I wondered in the end, what the story would be about. We stayed in contact via twitter and when the story came out, he asked, “Was I fair?” Yes, Chris,  you were fair. Thank you.

Read Penny’s and my story here in Chris’ article.

I am honored to be in a story alongside Penny Stringfield and honored our boys, Jeff Dugon and Johny Stringfield share their stories on a page.

Alexis Pleus by Chris Arnade

Photos by Chris Arnade.

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Join us to Advocate for Policy Changes in Albany!

We are visiting Albany to advocate for policy change on May 3rd, May 10th and May 11th.

It is very important that our political leaders hear from us and the struggles we face with finding treatment and having it be affordable and/or approved by our insurance.

Here is our agenda for advocacy for 2016:

Advocacy Agenda for 2016

New York State is not immune to the opioid and heroin epidemic plaguing our country which has progressed now to a crisis. While we have been ahead of the curve on implementation of some important issues such as the Good Samaritan Law and Naloxone access, we remain behind in health parity and treatment access.

As an advocacy organization, we are reminded daily of the many obstacles people seeking help encounter. Here is the typical sequence of events experienced by an individual who has said “I want help”:

  1. They don’t know where to turn and often go to the Emergency Room. Emergency Rooms do not admit for detox, do not transfer patients to detox, rarely line up treatment appointments and often do not give information regarding access to treatment or evaluations.
  2. The individual attempts to schedule an evaluation. The wait time for evaluation appointments in NY varies widely, from 2 days to 5 weeks.
  3. They are most often referred to outpatient treatment, which is known to have a 90% relapse rate.
  4. Co-pays for outpatient treatment are a huge financial burden. One mother recently reported her son was remanded to intensive outpatient treatment 5 days per week. With private insurance, the co-pay is $40 per visit. At $200/week the bill is higher than her mortgage and electric bill combined.
  5. If the person goes to inpatient treatment, there is little information about what the facility offers or provides. Many people report arriving at a facility only to be told ‘you need to detox first’ or the opposite ‘you don’t have enough drugs in your system’. One family said a treatment facility employee suggested the parents take their son to make a purchase so he could shoot up and then he could be admitted.
  6. If they are admitted for detox, few facilities are offering medically assisted humane detox. Even those that are providing it are often saying the person is ‘done detoxing’ after 2-3 days. We had one gentleman told he was ‘done’ less than 48 hours after being admitted.
  7. If the treatment center finds out Medicaid or the insurance will not pay for the stay, the person is immediately asked to leave with no taper from the Suboxone they were started on and no direct link to their next service provider.
  8. For inpatient treatment, insurers in New York are typically only approving 7-14 days of treatment. The average seems to hover around 9 to 10 days. We have not heard of a single family with private insurance or Medicaid that has been provided over 21 days at an inpatient facility.
  9. There are families losing loved ones while they wait for treatment.

Though we believe a multi-faceted approach will ultimately be necessary to conquer this epidemic, nothing is more important than saving those who are desperate for help now. We need our state government to take emergency measures to address those suffering and asking for help now.

Thank you for your time and also offer our help. If you need someone to speak at a hearing, provide testimony or advocate to your colleagues, please call on us. We will help.

We need the following emergency measures:

  1. Same day evaluations for those seeking help.
  2. A treatment protocol for persons taken to the emergency room after an overdose. Attached as “Best Practices for Medical Providers.
  3. Immediate access to treatment or a hospital stay until treatment is available.
  4. Humane, medical detox.
  5. Insurers MUST be required to pay for the type and length of treatment known to be effective. Anyone seeking opioid addiction treatment should be granted 90 days of inpatient treatment at a minimum.
  6. New York State must increase the reimbursement rates so that treatment centers can open and operate here.
  7. A one call system.

These bills would offer a high impact with low cost to New York and are non-controversial:

  1. Require all first responders, fire and police to carry Naloxone.
  2. Require hospitals to provide persons who have overdosed and any support person with them with Naloxone training as well as a kit to take home.
  3. Require all treatment facilities, outpatient clinics and residential facilities:
    1. to have all staff trained in the administration of Naloxone and to have Naloxone on premises;
    2. to follow up after discharge at 14, 30, 60 and 90 days to determine relapse rates and report these statistics to OASAS;
    3. to provide patient and support persons with Naloxone training as well as a kit to take home upon discharge.

The following bills will have a significant impact on the epidemic:

Bill # Description Sponsor
S6478A/ A9211 Requires insurance companies to provide at least ninety days of rehabilitation services to an insured upon a doctor’s prescription Senator Ritchie/ Assemblyman Stirpe
S651 Relates to continuing medical education requirements for doctors, nurses and pharmacists; requires three hours of training on the prevention, treatment and mitigation of opiate analgesics and psychotropic drug addiction. Senator Kennedy
S647 Requires the department to draft guidelines for the transition of patients from substances with a high risk of addiction to those with a low risk. Senator Kennedy
S660 Requires disclosure of addiction risks for certain prescription drugs; requires physicians, nurses and pharmacists to provide information on prevention, mitigation and treatment of prescription drug addiction and to have the patient sign a form acknowledging education of such risks. Senator Kennedy
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Thank you to Governor Cuomo’s Office and OASAS – Attention to the Bed Availability Dashboard

On January 31, 2016, Governor Cuomo announced a new tool to help with the search for an addiction treatment bed in New York State.  Governor Cuomo Unveils New Tool to Guide New Yorkers to Addiction Treatment. The database was to provide up to date information about treatment beds available across New York state which would be updated ‘live’. In fact, according to the Governor’s press release it would be updated 24/7. This would save other treatment facilities, people seeking treatment and families the frustration of calling many facilities just to find their beds are full.

When we first reviewed the tool we were pleased that at least it DOES show what a lack of treatment availability there is in New York. Albeit sad, we are hoping that our elected officials would search this and see how little help is out there, no matter what your situation. If you’re a parent searching for your son or daughter, of course you will go to the ends of the earth, but what about those searching for help who cannot get a ride to a facility 5 hours away?

We were also a bit dismayed by the lack of the ability to search by bed or facility type along with no glossary for those who do not understand what the difference is between the treatment types listed such as “Intensive Residential” versus “Inpatient Rehab” or “Medically Monitored Withdrawal” versus “Med Sup Withdrawal”.

Screenshot 2016-02-21 09.20.59In reality, this is a great tool they’ve provided and we believe with some work, it can help people as they search for treatment, but as it stands today, it is not helpful to the person who is desperate for help or the parent who has just learned their child is addicted to opiates and is not privy to the jargon terms of the industry.

We want four items added:

  1. A mileage indicator from your zip code to the facilities found.
  2. The ability to search by facility or bed type.
  3. A glossary of bed or facility types.
  4. The ability to click and send a report to OASAS and the Governor’s Office if no bed is found within 50 miles of your home zip code and it should provide you with a receipt or email confirmation of your report submission.

We must have a way to continually remind them of how difficult help is to find.

By February 9th, we found there were two serious issues even attempting to use the tool as it was 1. Many facilities were not updating their information. 2. Some would list several beds, yet if you called them, they would tell you there was a multi-week waiting period.

Truth Pharm searched for someone to talk to about this issue and after multiple phone calls, found that no one knew who we should contact to discuss the issues, so we contacted the Governor’s office. Our note to the Governor

We are actually impressed! They forwarded our email to OASAS and asked them to address the issue. A contact has now been added to the bottom of the website and we were forwarded several contacts we can make if the dashboard is not being updated or does not reflect accurate data. Letter from OASAS

My favorite line from their email: “As an additional incentive, delinquent/lazy providers have been warned that failure to comply with this daily requirement may result in daily financial penalties.”

Truth Pharm says BRAVO to OASAS on that one!!!

Please keep us posted on this tool – if it works for you, if it doesn’t, if you notice that certain providers are not updating their listing.

This is the link to the tool: Bed Availability Dashboard

We want to thank Governor Cuomo and OASAS for their excellent attention to this matter.

We also want to take this opportunity to remind them, real progress will happen when the Governor promises and provides treatment for all within 50 miles of your zip code. If there is not facility, you should be allowed to go to and be admitted in the nearest hospital, no questions asked. This is what we are fighting for. This is a medical condition proven to be deadly if untreated. If someone wants treatment, they should get that treatment on demand.

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