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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How Do You Choose to View a Tragedy?

This post is copied from a comment in a thread. The comment was written by Tom Kelleher who witnessed the incredible tragedy of the gentleman getting hit and killed by a driver who was arrested afterwards for driving under the influence of drugs and vehicular manslaughter.

We, as an organization, have seen an incredible up-swelling of stigma, damning language, insults and judgement towards people with substance use disorders since the tragedy. We grappled with whether we should provide a statement as an organization, or not. And then, we saw this… an approach with love. We couldn’t have written anything better. We reached out to Tom and with his permission, are sharing his words here.

Can we approach all things with love? Can we come together as a community to prevent more tragedies?

This situation is tragic, for everyone involved, all the way around. This woman and her family will feel the effects of this for a lifetime. My prayers go out to the poor man who lost his life, to this woman, to her family, to all of those who witnessed this tragic event and had to deal with the immediate consequences, and all of those who suffer addiction.

I have no judgment towards this woman. I have not walked in her shoes. I do not know the path of her life and what brought her to this point. We know not what others’ lives are like, what they experience or how they end up where they do. I have tried to approach this with “LOVE”… asking the question “What would love do?” A lesson taught to me by Anthony Tony Brunelli. I do not judge her. My first thought is “but for the grace of god, there go I.”

I have tried to approach this with “LOVE”… asking the question “What would love do?”

I too, had addiction issues in my life, that did take me to bad places and could have taken me to far worse ones. Addictions that could have taken me to the place this woman finds herself in. Addictions that could have destroyed me, my family, my life, and the lives of others. The purpose of this post is to show what drug addiction can do to someone, the path it leads them down, the tragedies that can occur, the consequences not just to them, but to their families, to others, to others’ families, to a community. If this post can deter, or change one person from going down this path, then it is more than worth it.

This post is meant to show compassion, healing, love, forgiveness. The post is meant to facilitate discussion on how we can treat addiction, as the way we currently treat it, is obviously not working. I have been working on the issue of addiction for quite some time. I have worked firsthand with individuals, trying to help them beat addiction. I have had a few successes. The path is long and hard, and the outcome never guaranteed. I have lost some to a lifetime of addiction, and lost some to death. People I knew and cared for, gone because of the horrificness of drug addiction. Dead, long before their time… passed away so young. The successes have been fulfilling, to see someone beat addition, a full life retrieved with happy marriage and children to follow, that I may have played some small role in… The addiction, hopefully a thing of their past… yet there are no guarantees.

Our area needs a full, in-house, long term treatment facility… truly long term, six month treatment, six month recovery house system. Our state and local representatives are way behind the curve as this type of facility should have been in place three years ago. Broome Developmental would be the perfect facility for this type of treatment program. It is already designed to handle inpatient, common open wards, common areas, recreation areas and the potential for recovery housing units. We should also have recovery houses located in the community.

We have had hundreds die in our own community due to this opioid crisis and government officials have been slow on the uptake to take serious actions. Secondly, this facility would be regional, helping communities across the state deal with this crisis, saving the lives of thousands, or tens of thousands of lives, as well as saving multi millions of dollars as a result of crimes committed to fund this addiction, as well as multi millions of dollars spent in our police, justice and penal systems, arresting those suffering from addiction – a MEDICAL condition, clogging court systems and jail systems, only to return them to the streets where there is practically zero chance of them beating this addiction on their own. We must, MUST, do something as a community to stop this. Please contact your state representatives – Fred Akshar, Clifford Crouch and Donna Lupardo.

But back to this moment. I witnessed this incident first hand, for this poor man being hit, then run over, then wedged underneath her car, and watched as he was dragged underneath her car for 100 feet. His body crumpled beyond recognition, broken and torn. I fought furiously, with many other people to attempt to save this man’s life, gathering bystanders together to flip this car off of him, and hopefully save him… but sadly, he had already passed.

Was I angry with her? Yes. But, I got past that immediately… I feel compassion for her, I feel badly for her. I feel badly for her family. Her child. My life, her life and this poor man’s life intersected that day, and I will never, ever forget it. It will impact me till the day I die. It has changed me.

This post was not to judge her, this was not to embarrass her. Far from it. I hold no ill will towards her, nor do I judge her. If she violated the law and is found guilty of a crime in relation to this incident, then our justice system and society will judge her. I do not. This man had no family that anyone is aware and he lived alone. He did not die alone that day, nor was the loss of his life in vain. A community came together to try and save his life, and a community came together to celebrate his life at a memorial service and vigil at my store.

Now, a community must come together to try and make certain these tragedies do not occur again and again. Life is precious. Life is fragile. ALL life.

There are no guarantees of a tomorrow for any of us.

Hold your loved ones closely, let them know how much you love them. We never know when our time comes. We never know when our last moment on this planet arrives. I wish everyone peace.

Love,

Tom Kelleher

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The Rainmakers’ Report 2/1/16 – 2/14/16

2/1/16 – Alexis attended the Community Foundation of South Central, NY grant workshop.

2/3/16 – Received our formal letter from the IRS approving our 501c3.

2/4/16 – Met with Pat Raube, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church in Endicott regarding the rectory that may be vacated soon. Pat is interested in utilizing the house for something the community needs. We discussed the idea of the Flight House which she was excited by the prospect of. She will be performing a community needs assessment and will also be discussing with church members.

2/4/16 – Very excited a volunteer, Donna Wood-Craig has officially accepted the position of Truth Pharm’s Angel Volunteer Coordinator for the Oxford Police Department’s Road to Recovery Program.

2/8/16 – Had a phone interview with Michael King, Director of Outreach for Facing Addiction, the national organization for a position on their national outreach committee.

2/8/16 – Truth Pharm Board of Directors Meeting – Penny Stringfield, Rusty Griffiths, Tom Jackson and Alexis Pleus in attendance.

2/8/16 – Truth Pharm Volunteer meeting with 16 in attendance to discuss news, fundraising, grants and Amy Cruz’s “The Wings Project” proposal.

2/9/16 – Contacted by District Attorney Steve Cornwell to assist with this new Operation SAFE Program. He’s in need of volunteers to make calls for treatment placement and would like to partner with Truth Pharm.

2/11/16 – Dataflow donated all the printing services for our awareness event in Hancock.

2/11/16 – Amy Cruz attended Yvonne Lucia’s open house for her creative grief works open house.

2/12/16 – Several Truth Pharm Rainmakers attended the training session at District Attorney Steve Cornwell’s office to be trained in making phone calls for treatment placement through Operation SAFE.

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Political Advocacy (harvesting results):

2/2/16 – Alexis participated in a live teleconference with Michael Botticelli, Director of National Drug Control Policy at the White House and Richard Frank, Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services regarding Obama’s announcement earlier in the day of $1.1 billion in 2017 budget.

2/2/16 – Blog post regarding our visit with Donna Lupardo and our plans to work together. Donna Lupardo has stayed in touch over the past two weeks sending us articles we may be interested in.

2/4/16 – Interviewed by WICZ to comment on the NY Bed Availability Dashboard announced by Governor Cuomo 1/31/16.

2/9/16 – Met with Michal Kirsch, retired pediatrician to discuss my idea of requesting an executive order of the president and governor. He believes my assessment of the current situation is accurate and he is willing to proof read and help provide supporting data.

2/9/16 – Wrote to Governor Cuomo’s office regarding the Bed Availability Dashboard and the inaccurate information provided in addition to the fact that it is not being updated.

2/10/16 – Assemblyman Cliff Crouch attended our Awareness Event in Hancock, NY. Thank you Assemblyman Crouch!

2/11/16 – Received exciting news from Senator Thomas O’Mara’s office that we have been selected to provide oral testimony at the Senate Joint Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction Roundtable in Penn Yan on 2/23/16.

plant_seedsEducation & Awareness (planting seeds):

2/1/16 – Met with Hancock representative from the Mayor’s office, Police Chief, Fire Chief and Director of Ambulance Services to discuss systems in place. Police are carrying Naloxone. Ambulance services is an advanced life support agency, so they have it as well. The fire department is currently working on registering and carrying. The police chief has inquired in the past about having a prescription drop box and offered that he would look into it further. We suggested they might want to contact Walgreens which is moving into the Rite Aid store soon because they are supposed to have prescription drop boxes to let them know there is a need. The Mayor’s office offered to provide a robocall regarding our event next week. We’ll send them the data. It was suggested we contact the Hancock Telephone Company to have an announcement played during the weather.

2/1/16 – Directed an Oxford woman to free Naloxone training at STAP via an email inquiry from her and she got trained and got a kit.

2/3/16 – Interviewed by Don Mathisen of WIOX radio an NPR station in Roxbury, NY. The program will air next week.

2/5/16 – Met with Sarah at the Volunteers of America shelter in Binghamton. She would like Truth Pharm to provide awareness education for her staff.

2/7/16 – Met with Kim Myers to present our Best Practices for Hospitals and Medical Providers. Kim will be presenting this to the CEO and members of the board of directors at Lourdes. We also discussed The Flight House and Kim is interested in assisting with fundraising if we move forward with the project. She asked that we prepare a program outline, determine zoning requirements, get insurance quotes and operating expenses.

2/8/16 – Wrote “Framing an Overdose” about a boy, Dajen Edwards who died of an overdose in Binghamton on 2/6/16.

2/9/16 – Alexis, Dannielle Swart and Al Roberts attended the WSKG community Conversation on the Heroin Epidemic.

2/10/16 – Rainmaker Dannielle Swart attended the Community Awareness event in Sidney, NY.

2/11/16 – Held our first Awareness Event for our Community Response Plan in Hancock, NY. Was very well received with about 70 people in attendance and excellent media coverage including the Kingfisher Project, WICZ, The Walton Reporter and the Hancock Herald. Assemblyman Cliff Crouch surprised us and came and spoke for a short time to give a summary of his efforts on this issue.

2/11/16 – News story by WICZ about the Awareness Event in Hancock, NY.

2/12/16 – Met with Melissa Martin at the counseling center at SUNY Broome to discuss ways we can partner together. She will invite us to provide some awareness information at upcoming common hour programs.

36 facebook posts of news articles, research reports, political advocacy, 8 awareness or fundraising events, 1 Memorials to lost loved ones, 3 stories of recovery, 7 pictures or blog posts, 2 memes. Over 87,000 people reached through posts. Over 800 shares. Now 2443 “Likes” on public facebook page. 135 followers on Twitter. 11 loved ones added to the Map of Lost Loved Ones.

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Treatment Access, Recovery and Support for Individuals and Families (growing recoverees):

2/3/16 – Helped send a gal to long term treatment out of the state.

2/4/16 – Visited a 20 year old young man at the Broome County Jail per his family’s request and because he is a friend of our family to see if he’s interested in treatment. He is, so we contacted the District Attorney. We also told the family to write letters on his behalf to the judge, the DA and the Public Defender.

2/4/16 – A mother contacted us 2/2/16 – she took her daughter to Binghamton General after learning she was a heroin addict and she (the daughter) wanted detox. The hospital did not keep her. Sent her home after a couple hours and suggested he call New Horizons for an evaluation which would take several days to get. 2/3/16 we emailed her and let her know to take her daughter for a fast track appointment (She was never told about this possibility). She could not get her daughter going until late morning – New Horizons told her it was too late for a fast track appointment. The same day she had extreme anxiety and pain as she was trying to detox herself at home. The mother took her to the ER again and again they sent her home. 2/4/16 Truth Pharm got long term treatment lined up out of town young woman (20 years) who was willing and anxious to go. The mother took her to the New Horizons fast track evaluation hoping she could at least get detox until she went to long term treatment. New Horizons discouraged the daughter from leaving the area for long term treatment and instead offered her 14 days of inpatient treatment and suggested afterwards, she could attend New Horizons outpatient treatment while staying at Fairview. The daughter accepted the offer.

2/9/16 – Spoke to a young man about his options. He had a warrant for his arrest. He decided to turn himself in and we told him we would contact the DA for him which we did. The DA said he will advocate for drug court for him and to have his mom write to his assigned counsel and the ADA and ask for the same. We explained to the DA this young man truly needs long term treatment to start. He said that can be arranged and for the family to advocate for it.

2/10/16 – Helped a 22 year old Broome County gentleman get a bad at Syracuse Behavioral Health. He was not able or willing to leave the area for treatment, so opted for local. We checked the bed availability dashboard which listed 5 beds for medical detox at Syracuse Behavioral Health. They did a phone screening and said he qualified for treatment, but then told him it would be a three week wait. We contacted them to ask why a 3 week wait when the Dashboard listed 5 beds. We were contacted shortly after and told a bed ‘opened up’ and he could be admitted the next day. He planned to go for as long as they would keep him. Once he got there they said actually, insurance won’t cover your stay because ‘it’s elective’ to be detoxed, so you’ll have to pay $400 per day out of pocket. He decided to stay anyways. He stayed 26 hours and said the staff had such bad attitudes and treated everyone like second class citizens, he could not take the mistreatment and left. He said 90% of the people there are court mandated and the staff treat the patients poorly.

2/11/16 – Received an update from a Syracuse mom who originally contacted us 1/17/16. Her son was notified he is 1 – 2 weeks away from a bed at St. Christopher’s. Almost 4 weeks’ wait time for treatment because he does not have private insurance.

2/12/16 – Got treatment lined up for gentleman who was housed with Opportunities for Broome who requested help with the District Attorney’s program, but they could not find treatment for him quickly enough. Discussed with volunteer who was working on placement from DA’s side as well as the DA who said to go ahead and start a fundraiser and the DA’s office would help spread the word. 2/12/16 started the fundraiser for 55 year old gentleman to go to treatment, lined up detox for him in Long Island. 2/13/16 picked the gentleman up and took him to the bus station to go to Long Island to be admitted into the medical detox program there.

2/12/16 – Had several rainmakers attend the District Attorney’s call for help meeting for his SAFE Program.

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Broome County Losses:

2/6/16 – We learned of a 22  year old young man who had just finished New Horizons inpatient treatment and was staying at Fairview who relapsed and was to return to ACC. He chose not to go in and overdosed that night. He did not make it. Rest in peace young man.

2/11/16 – A 26 year old young man lost his life to an overdose. He was a father of two children.

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Framing an Overdose Death

Another overdose death in Broome County. A very young man at the age of 22 did not wake up yesterday (2/6/16).
 
I am getting multiple versions of what happened with this young man. Some are saying he was at ACC and left because he couldn’t take the detox. Another said he just completed short term inpatient treatment at New Horizons and was waiting for a bed at Fairview. Another said he got kicked out of treatment for testing positive for suboxone (which he was apparently not prescribed). Another is saying it was her son’s roommate at Fairview and he overdosed there.

 
In the end, I can say, I’ve been at meeting after meeting where professionals and treatment providers call this ‘failing treatment’ or paint a picture that puts the blame on the person for being ‘unsuccessful’ in maintaining sobriety. They’ll say ‘he wasn’t serious about sobriety’. They will allow his death to be his fault and his fault alone.
 
I am going to say, this young man, like so many people in this country, clearly wanted to stop using heroin, but was not given the medical attention and treatments known to be effective, the length of time in treatment known to be effective, was not provided with the level of care, transfer of care or follow-up necessary and proven to be effective. Our system and the lack of proper medical treatment failed him and he died because of it.
 
For those who don’t know, detoxing from opioids or heroin is extremely painful to the bones and muscles in your body. I heard one person describe it as feeling as if every bone in their body was breaking. Add to that nerve pain, violent shaking, chills, vomiting, diarrhea, sweats, fear, agitation, severe cravings and severe anxiety.
 
There is a method for a person to be medically detoxed. A person can be given a tapering dose of suboxone to relieve their symptoms and make them more comfortable. Suboxone also curbs the intense cravings they have. In the US, it has been determined for some insane reason, this is not a medically necessary treatment. This is based on a determination that opioid withdrawal is ‘in most cases’ non-life threatening. Somehow the medical and insurance industries have been able to take this and run with it so that people addicted to opioids going through withdrawal are not granted the medicines known to be successful in easing their pain and making them more likely to be successful in both detox and treatment.
 
Our only local detox option, the ACC (through no fault of its own) is a facility that cannot offer medically assisted detoxification. They can only offer over the counter medications and take the person to the hospital if their symptoms are severe to be given some medications to relieve some of their symptoms. Note, they are not given what is known to best relieve the symptoms of opioid withdrawal and the symptoms can still be severe.
 
Many people (we are told 4 out of 10) leave the ACC because they cannot endure the withdrawals. Again – the withdrawals they are enduring could be alleviated GREATLY if given a tapered dose of suboxone.
 
Other facilities locally won’t offer medically assisted detox because insurance won’t pay for it and they hold to the idea that it’s ‘not life threatening’.
 
For those who are struggling to not use while in treatment will get ‘kicked out’ of treatment for ‘failing’ by most facilities rather than being providing more treatment or changing the type of treatment.

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Here’s another fucked up thing about opioid withdrawals – long term use of opioids actually reduces your pain tolerance… so the pain that person is feeling is literally worse than what a non-opioid user would experience. And, opioids damage the regions of your brain that control judgement and motivation. So, you’ve got a person in withdrawals in severe pain, anxiety and experiencing severe cravings… they are NOT being given the medication known to be most successful in reducing these symptoms, they have a damaged sense of judgement and motivation and yet we are expecting them to have some sort of super human power, strength or ‘desire’ to outweigh all of that and stay to ‘muscle through’ a non-medically assisted gruesome detox.
 
We also know that 90 days of inpatient treatment is proven to be effective. We know there is a 90% relapse rate after short term (less than 14 days) of inpatient treatment.
 
So rather than having people say this young man at the age of 22 went AMA, was ‘unsuccessful’, ‘didn’t want it bad enough’, ‘wasn’t strong enough’ or ‘gave up’, let’s all do his family and him the honor of being honest and frank about what happened.
 
Here’s what happened – our system did not offer a young man with a substance use disorder, which is a medical condition, the medical treatment necessary and known to be effective so that he could be successful in recovery that he needed to overcome a disease which often leads to death.
 
We need to stop blaming people seeking treatment for being ‘unsuccessful’ ESPECIALLY when we are not providing them the treatment and medical assistance that is clinically proven to help them be.
 
We need to change the conversation.
 
Let’s commit to saying – this person died of an overdose because he was not provided the medical attention or treatments proven to be successful.
 
We don’t require diabetics to give up sugar before we’ll give them insulin. We don’t require smokers to quit smoking before we treat their cancer. We don’t require people with clogged arteries to stop eating unhealthy food before we’ll clean out their veins or put in stents. And if we try a treatment for any of these and it’s unsuccessful, we don’t paint the patient as not being strong enough or not wanting to be well – we try a different type of treatment or a more intensive level of treatment. 


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Rainmakers’ Report 1/17/16 – 1/31/16 – It Even Rains in Winter!

1/17/16 – Our website was updated with many improvements including Jeremiah Lindeman’s Celebrating Lost Loved Ones Map.

1/17/16 – Our first blog post – The Rainmakers’ Report.

1/19/16- Met with Jack Juran, Coordinator, Tioga County Drug Court – we met to get an overview of Tioga County’s Drug Court process and we are VERY impressed! Jack also invited us to prepare a presentation to give at their weekly meeting which will include the Tioga County District Attorney, Public Defender, Tioga County Sheriff, Head of Probation and Drug Court Coordinators.

1/19/16 – Attended our first TCCASA meeting for their Tioga County Addiction Task Force. We were offered a seat on this task force and have accepted. We will be assisting them with many of their efforts in the future. We were provided an update of what they have done to date. We were also offered the opportunity to write a summary about Truth Pharm to be included in their next news letter.

1/19/16 – We’ve received the final list from Assemblyman Crouch’s office of which EMS agencies are carrying naloxone and which are not so that we can start our outreach to them.

1/19/16 – Our 501c3 Application was submitted.

1/19/16 – Asked to be on panel of planners for Genesee County’s Crime Victims Assistance Week and to be one of the speakers for their conference. Also asked to coordinate Chief Campanello’s attendance and speaking engagement. Working on that.

1/19/16 – Asked to speak at Afton Awareness event on March 9 as “Parent Affected”.

1/20/16 – We met with Jeanette Tolson who is a private practice social worker. We discussed Jeanette’s experience in the addiction and recovery treatment world and Truth Pharm’s Core Values and areas of focus. We decided Jeanette’s and our core values are quite inline! Jeanette has graciously offered her professional training services for our upcoming Angel programs and is also willing to be a speaker at awareness events. This is an exciting partnership!

1/20/16 – We met with Tom Jackson and Benjamin Bergman. They have offered some legal expertise to us in addition to some ideas we’ll be working on together! They have also joined our board of directors which is a very exciting announcement.

1/20/16– Executive Committee Meeting

1/24/16 – Received commitment from Refabulous Furniture they will donate furniture for Oxford Police’s Community Recovery Room.

1/25/16 – We had our Rainmaker Meeting with 18 in attendance! Plans for our trips to Albany were discussed. Dannielle Swart provided a nice concise presentation on how laws are made in Albany and an overview of how to lobby to advance policy.

1/26/16 – Alexis Pleus, Michelle Ericitano and Daniel Rippe provided interviews and a response to the New York State Assembly Minority Task Force’s report on the Heroin Epidemic.

1/26/16 – Met with the Oxford Police and three volunteers interested in possibly running our Angel Program for the Oxford Police. It was a fantastic meeting and they have accepted! Sarah Francis, Donna Wood-Craig and Connie Barnes are going to be our Angel Program Leaders for the Oxford Police Department!

1/26/16 – Truth Pharm and the Oxford Naloxone training and the Angel Program featured in an article in The Daily Star newspaper.

1/26/16 – Truth Pharm and the Oxford Naloxone training and the Angel Program featured in an article in The Evening Sun newspaper.

1/27/16 – We provided a resource table at the Windsor High School Awareness event.

1/28/16 – We participated in a nationwide conference call to form committees to plan the next Facing Addiction Rally in Washington DC.

1/28/16 – Attended a webinar training to use SBIRT with Teens.

1/28/16 – Co-Hosted a community Naloxone training in Oxford, NY with the Oxford Police Department and Southern Tier Aides Program. 47 were in attendance. WICZ provided news coverage.

1/29/16 – We met with the new Broome County District Attorney, Stephen Cornwell. We listened to his ideas and plans for the future and heard his beliefs about addiction and the criminal justice system. We felt his values are well aligned with ours! He told us about many of his future plans, most of which we cannot discuss openly yet, but we are very excited about them. We told him about some of our plans and offered to partner on future projects. We also established that we will have an excellent working relationship with him in the future.

1/29/16 – We met with Donna Lupardo and provided our List of Changes Needed in New York State, our Core Values, Strategic Areas of Focus and provided our comments on the Assembly Minority’s Heroin Task Force Report. She was excited and thankful to have the data. She will use it to make connections and discuss with her colleagues. We discussed the ties of the heroin/opioid epidemic to the affects on children in New York which is a topic she champions. We would like to have members of Truth Pharm follow up on this with her some more. She provided a legislative session calendar and suggested dates for us to be most effective in Albany. She also offered to send us a list of people we should target seeing while we are there. She stressed that making appointments ahead of time is imperative.

1/30/16 – Alexis, Amy Cruz and Kim Myers met to discuss several ideas. This was an exciting meeting. Amy is putting together a proposal for an idea she has which will be an amazing and compassionate service to those impacted by deaths due to substance related causes. More to come in the future on this. We all discussed current issues with access to treatment. We also discussed our need for The Flight House.

38 facebook posts – Awareness Events, Naloxone Events, Informative Articles, Memorials to lost loved ones, stories of recovery. Over 30,000 reached. Now 2342 “Likes” on public facebook page. 108 followers on Twitter.

Treatment Access, Recovery and Support for Individuals and Families:

  • We talked a family through accessing treatment in New York State. They called Conifer who had no open beds, but gave them a list of other facilities. He was promised medical detox at St. Peter’s in Albany. The family took him, he was admitted and released 2 days later with a referral to AA meetings and an evaluation potentially for outpatient. He begged the facility to keep him and reported he was not ready to abstain without further inpatient help. Truth Pharm offered help with placement out of state, family declined.
  • A Rainmaker’s son was admitted at Conifer for their 28 day inpatient treatment, but was only kept for 3 days due to insurance denying the claim for further treatment. He was sent home. We recommended filing a complaint with OASAS and the Attorney General. She called OASAS and they told her he was lucky to get that because they’re doing away with detox in New York soon anyways.
  • The son’s (referenced above) girlfriend was admitted to Conifer for their 28 day program, but was only allowed 7 days of treatment.
  • We assisted a family in advocating to the DA, PD and Judge to have their daughter held in jail rather than released from court until they could find treatment for her. They were successful in having her held in the Broome County Jail. Unfortunately, he was locked in her cell while in severe withdrawals, had a seizure, fell, gashed her head and was hospitalized. We helped the parents communicate with CARS to see about placement with them, but their waiting list is 4 deep. New Horizons said the girl may be able to go there, but no commitment to any specific length of time. It will be based on what insurance will pay (typically 10-11 days). Parents are currently working with Truth Pharm to have her placed in treatment out of state. The Judge and District Attorney are helping with the arrangements. Truth Pharm is also raising the funds to send her.
  • 1/29/16 – Received an update from one of our gals placed in treatment through Truth Pharm and Matty in November in long term treatment in Arizona. She just received her 90 days of sobriety coin! She thanked us. She is our inspiration
  • A Rainmaker took a gal who needed help to the ACC 1/25/16. She did not last 24 hours there.
  • A Rainmaker took a friend to ACC for detox, they were provided 9 days and transferred to YMCA afterwards, but only lasted 3 days before using again.
  • Referred a gentleman to a local suboxone doctor. He said he has three professional friends addicted and not knowing where to turn for help without the risk of losing their jobs.
  • 1/24/16 – One of our Rainmakers with 23 months of sobriety celebrated getting his first apartment in sobriety! Another of our Rainmakers pulled together donations of furniture, household items and groceries and two Rainmakers picked up and delivered these items to him.
  • 1/30/16 – A special mom who is a Truth Pharm Rainmaker and is raising her granddaughter was given some grocery and gas gift cards from a special friend of Truth Pharm’s just out of love and concern.
  • Provided two people in Ohio the Naloxone Program Locator tool.
  • Provided a Broome County woman with a list of suboxone doctors per her request.
  • Referred an individual to STAP for Naloxone training and they made an appointment.
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Rainmakers’ Report 1/1/16 – 1/16/16 – It Feels GOOD to Make Rain!

1/1/16 – Assemblyman Crouch is diligently working to determine the best plan of action to require EMS agencies in New York State to carry naloxone.

1/14/16 – Executive Committee Meeting

1/6/16 – Meeting in Hancock with group of concerned citizens regarding opioid epidemic. Truth Pharm provided a proposal for a series of events and requested they create a small committee who will handle logistics. Everyone agreed to move forward with the proposal which includes An Awareness Event, A Naloxone Training, A Follow-Up Event, a High School Assembly and creating a community action group either an extension of Truth Pharm, or whatever they would like to create.

1/7/16 – Meeting with the Oxford Police and the Community Foundation for South Central New York to discuss potential funding of the Oxford Police program and discussed potential funding for other Truth Pharm projects as well.

1/7/16 – Finalized schedule with STAP for two upcoming Nalaxone Trainings – 1/28/16 in Oxford, NY at 5:30pm and 2/17/16 in Hancock, NY at 5:30pm.

1/8/16 – Interview with WICZ to discuss the number of deaths in Broome County as reported by Dr. Ryan with the Broome County Health Department.

1/9/16 – Volunteer and Committee Organizational meeting between Susan and Alexis

1/11/16 – Outstanding Rainmaker Meeting – made plans to meet every other week, discussed endeavors, rainmakers signed up to help with awareness events coming up.

1/13/16 – Meeting with Broome County Sheriff’s Office, Truth Pharm, Broome County Social Services, Broome County Mental Health, Fairview, ACC and UHS Behavioral Health to discuss the Angel Program for Broome County Sheriff’s Office. In summary – The program was developed as this: If a person reports to the BCSO for treatment, an Angel Volunteer will be called to come and do the intake paperwork with the person. They person will be asked if they would like to get long term inpatient treatment out of the area or if they would prefer going to the ACC and utilizing local treatment providers. If they want local treatment: If they have come in between 8am and 4pm, we will call New Horizons and see if a rapid access assessment can be performed. If not, the person will be taken to the ACC which is offering 2 beds dedicated to the program and if those are full will dedicate 2 more beds. From that point, ACC may perform the evaluation or coordinate with UHS and Attempt to get the person inpatient treatment at New Horizons. If they cannot get inpatient treatment at New Horizons, ACC will find them residential or other treatment elsewhere.

If they want out long term, inpatient treatment out of the area, no facility locally is willing to allow them to stay there until they leave. As of now, the plan is that the person will be allowed to go home and the Angel will work to find treatment ASAP and travel arrangements will be made. This is how Cooperstown is running their program. We are still working on this issue, but for now, we are pleased that we are at least able to still move forward.

1/13/16 – Meeting with the Lost Dog owners and Robert Riddel who have all offered to help us with a fundraiser. We will call the fundraiser “A Night of Mindreading and Magic” it will be March 11th from 6-9pm. Tickets will be $35 each. We’ll be able to sell 75 tickets. More details will follow as we fully develop the program and plans.

1/13/16 – We’ve received the initial list from Assemblyman Crouch’s office of which EMS agencies are carrying naloxone and which are not so that we can start our outreach to them.

1/14/16 – Rusty and Alexis met with our attorney regarding 501c3 regulations and our application and things are moving forward. In addition to discussions regarding insurance, the attorney is also going to provide us with a waiver we can use when helping people find treatment to protect our organization.

1/14/16 – Meeting with the Oxford Police Department and a physician who is willing to help us with trying to get other local physicians onboard with being reputable suboxone and vivitrol providers that will accept insurance. He is also willing to help us with outpatient suboxone assisted detox for persons willing and scheduled to leave town for inpatient long term treatment.

1/14/16 – Meeting with Hancock folks to discuss plans with the Pastor of the Church who manages the Messenger Hall where the events will take place. He is very much onboard with our plans and we may find him to be a serious partner in our efforts in Hancock. He is interested in creating a recovery support group in Hancock and we suggested we make a call for donations at the Awareness Event that will be used to fund this effort so we are leaving the community with a lasting and impactful resource. We have the dates set for their events: Awareness Event 2/11, Naloxone Training 2/17, Follow-up Event 3/10. Pat Simmons has made contact with the school and provided me with their contact information to plan a high school assembly which sounds like they are all onboard with.

1/14/16 – Oxford School Superintendent is interested in having us provide an event for them. We provided a proposal and outline for a possible assembly.

1/16/16 – Alexis, Sarah and Laurie attended the 5 hour EASE Volunteer training in Oneonta, NY to learn how to be a support person to someone in the early stages of opiate withdrawal.

Treatment Access for Individuals: A Broome County 22 Year Old young man flew out for long term inpatient treatment. We raised the funds to help a 22 year old young woman from Otsego County fly out for long term inpatient treatment. A Broome County young man got a bed in New York State 28 day treatment facility. Discussed methods of advocacy with the parents of a young woman in the criminal justice system. Discussed methods of advocacy with a family member who wants to advocate for their loved one in the criminal justice system.

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