Dear Commissioner Sanchez,
Dear Commissioner Sanchez,
Truth Pharm is pleased to announce it’s first annual Drive For Change golf tournament! Along with the tournament itself, we will have live music, basket raffles, door prizes, and a dinner to follow.
Registration begins at 12 p.m.
Cost per team: $350.00 (4)
Team Skins: $20.00 per team
Includes – Greens Fee, Cart, Snacks, Dinner, Mulligan, and Entertainment.
Dinner for Non-Golfers: $30 each.
Sign your teams up here: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3066156
Want to spring for a sponsorship? Do that here:https://squareup.com/store/truthpharm
Paying by check can also be arranged.
All proceeds will go to raising awareness, reducing the stigma, educating the public and advocating for change to end the overdose health care crisis.
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
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.
Founder and Executive Director
cc: Governor Andrew Cuomo, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, NYS Commissioner of Health Howard Zucker
Alexis Pleus of Truth Pharm provides oral testimony at New York State Heroin Task Force in Penn Yan, NY
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”.
In 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:
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.
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:
“Anything that involves further criminalizing within this epidemic is time wasted,” Truth Pharm founder Alexis Pleus said. “We really need our government to look at a very aggressive, proactive approach for this epidemic.”
See the report here.
Alexis Pleus lost her son to a heroin overdose last year.
She says along with helping addicts find treatment, society must eliminate the negative stigma attached to addiction to help encourage users to seek help.
“When Jeff passed away, I learned within 24 hours that I didn’t want to tell anyone how he had died because of the way people treated me,” said Pleus. “I started Truth Pharm. We want to work on reducing the stigma, which is really important to me because the less we judge people who have addictions, the more likely they are to reach out for help.”
Truth Pharm hopes to assist the sheriff’s office to get the Angels program rolling — but there are some road blocks.
“As soon as the bed spaces come up, I think we’ll be in good order then,” said Harder.
When Action News asked if the Angels Program could happen in the county without more inpatient centers opening locally, Harder said he wasn’t sure.
“Good question,” he said. “I don’t know yet.”
Harder has ideas of where to build a new treatment facility.
“They want to close down the Broome Developmental Center, why not make that a treatment center?” said Harder. “You’ve got the state hospital, why not go into a treatment center for there? The big thing is cost. That’s what’s holding the whole thing up it seems.”
Pleus said the county could look at the heroin epidemic as an opportunity to lead.
“Rather than being upset that we have an epidemic or upset that we have this addiction crisis, we could be the county that’s looked on positively by putting money into the issue, trying to get people that are addicted treatment, trying to turn this epidemic around, and showing care and love,” said Pleus. “It doesn’t have to be negative, it could be positive.”
See the full report By Julianne Peixoto here.