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GOW opioid task force

August 3, 2020 - 4:26pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, health department.

Press release:

COVID-19 may have temporarily put a stop to large gatherings, but the coronavirus pandemic is no match for the GOW Opioid Task Force’s commitment to informing the public of the dangers of opioid drug use and ways to prevent potentially deadly overdoses.

“Our Overdose Awareness Day is not able to be held this summer due to social distancing guidelines and restrictions on the use of parks, so we will be transitioning to an online event,” said Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator. “All the information that would have been shared at Austin Park in Batavia will be put on our Facebook page.”

Ferraro added that the task force plans to post – on a regular basis throughout August -- articles, videos, local data and stories from individuals that have been affected by an overdose.

Genesee/Orleans Public Health Director Paul Pettit, a member of the task force, said he is well aware of the widespread impact of the opioid epidemic.

“Any loss of life is devastating to a community,” he said. “The effect is far-reaching as it devastates the family system – economically as a number of financially productive years are lost and emotionally as no dollar amounts can equal the loss of a life due to addiction.”

Pettit said that setting aside a period of time, be it a month or a day, to remind people of the various issues surrounding opioid use is important.

“There are so many services available for those experiencing addictive behaviors or are experimenting with various substances, and we encourage people to use those services before it is too late,” he said.

Ferraro also advised that another virtual opioid overdose prevention and Narcan training is scheduled for Aug. 26, with sessions at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

The training will cover the disease of addiction, a brief history of the opioid crisis, signs and symptoms of opioid use and overdose, the overdose reversal drug Narcan and the administration of Narcan.

Attendance is required at just one of the sessions for the participant to receive credit for the course.

“Those completing the training will learn more about how to prevent an opioid overdose and will receive a free Narcan nasal spray kit,” Ferraro said. “It is important to bring awareness to this day and the impact an overdose can have on an individual, their families and the community.”

The registration deadline is Aug. 24. To register, contact Ferraro at [email protected]

For more information and to see the event flyer, go to Facebook.com/gowopioidtaskforce.

June 11, 2020 - 1:24pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, GCASA.

Press release:

As part of its continuing education strategy, Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse – in cooperation with the GOW Opioid Task Force – will present another Opioid Overdose Prevention Online Narcan Training.

The training is scheduled for Wednesday, June 24, and will feature three one-hour sessions – 10 a.m., 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Attendance is required at just one of the sessions to receive credit for the training.

“We’re pleased to be able to present our second online training and look forward to hearing GCASA’s Prevention Educators’ new perspective on addiction, the opioid crisis and the administration of Narcan,” said Christen Ferraro, GOW Opioid Task Force coordinator.

Topics to be discussed include the disease of addiction, a brief history of the opioid crisis, signs and symptoms of opioid use and overdose, the overdose reversal drug Narcan, administration of Narcan and where to obtain Narcan.

Those who successfully complete the training will receive a Certificate of Completion and a free Narcan nasal spray kit, Ferraro said.

To access a registration form, click here. To access a pre-test, click here.

Both forms should take only a few minutes, Ferraro said, and both must be completed in order for the participant to receive his or her link to the training.

“Both forms should only take a few minutes and there are no wrong answers,” Ferraro noted.

The registration deadline is June 23.

For more information or to have the registration documents emailed, contact Ferraro at [email protected].

May 2, 2020 - 9:11am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, notify, GOW opioid task force, GCASA.

Press release:

A free opioid overdose prevention online Narcan training is scheduled for May 13.

Hosted by the GOW Opioid Task Force and Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Prevention Department, the videoconference training offers two one-hour sessions -- 10 to 11 a.m. and 2 to 3 p.m.

Participants need to attend only one of the sessions to receive credit.

Topics to be covered include: the disease of addiction; a brief history of the opioid crisis; signs and symptoms of opioid use and overdose; the overdose reversal drug Narcan; the administration of Narcan; and where to obtain Narcan.

“After completing a registration form, an attendee will be sent a link for this online training. Once the training is complete, that person will receive a free Narcan nasal spray kit from a licensed provider,” said Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator.

To register, send an email requesting a registration form to:   [email protected]

For more information, visit www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

January 31, 2020 - 9:32am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, GCASA.

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Gone, never forgotten and now providing inspiration for those reaching out to help others whose lives have been adversely affected by the opioid crisis.

That was the message conveyed by Nicole Anderson, Statewide Targeted Response case manager at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, as she provided information about a “remembrance painting” at the recent GOW Opioid Task Force meeting in Batavia.

“As part of Overdose Awareness Day last summer at Austin Park, we asked people to participate in remembering those we have lost to overdose deaths,” she said. “This beautiful painting – created and donated by one of our members -- was displayed at the event for loved ones to put a heart with the name of those they have lost.”

Anderson, who lost her stepfather to a heroin overdose 17 years ago, went on to say that the task force put the painting on display in agencies across Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties, and now has extended the opportunity for community members to add their loved ones’ names to the painting.

“It is our hope that the task force will continue to support those who have lost loved ones and honor the memories of those who have passed and, this year, with the support of the GOW Opioid Task Force Steering Committee, we would like to donate this painting to the GCASA Recovery Center,” she said.

The Recovery Center, located at the former Bohn’s Restaurant on Clinton Street Road, is scheduled to open by the end of February.

Anderson also serves as the secretary of the task force’s Families, Loved Ones and Allies Work Group, which is committed to providing support and resources for those distressed by the opioid epidemic.

She said another Overdose Awareness Day is planned for this August. The 2019 inaugural event drew more than 100 people and more than a dozen representatives from substance abuse prevention agencies in the tri-county area.

Photo: Members of the GOW Opioid Task Force display a “remembrance painting” dedicated to those who have died as a result of the opioid crisis. From left are Nick Volpe, Marlowe Thompson, Brandon Fogg, Scott Davis, Chris Budzinack, Debbie Dutton, Ricco Oquendo, Sue Gagne, Nicole Anderson and Christen Ferraro.

Disclosure: Story and photo by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 24, 2020 - 8:07am

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On a national level, the number of deaths from opioid overdoses has decreased over the past two years, but that trend doesn’t give the nearly 450 members of the GOW Opioid Task Force any reason to relax their efforts in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties.

That was the message communicated by the coalition’s leaders on Wednesday during their quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites on Park Road in Batavia. About 100 people representing a cross-section of organizations from the three counties attended.

“We’ve seen a 5 percent decrease from 2017 (in the number of opioid-related deaths) and that’s a positive thing … but we need to stay the course, even if the numbers are going down,” said Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties.

Pettit’s statement is especially true when considering the data from the GOW counties, particularly Genesee, which had an opioid overdose death rate of 36.2 per 100,000 people in 2017 – one of the highest in the United States.

That number went down to 21.1 in 2018, but in Orleans County the rate rose from 17.1 to 29.5 from 2017 to 2018 while in Wyoming County the rate stayed the same at 27.

The opioid epidemic started due to physicians’ overprescribing drugs such as Oxycodone, Pettit said, and evolved into serious problems with heroin and fentanyl after laws were passed that restricted access to the prescription drugs.

Drug overdoses resulted in nearly 800,000 deaths to Americans from 1999 through 2018, including 47,590 from opioids in 2018 alone, Pettit reported.

Pettit applauded the work of the GOW Task Force which has taken on the crisis by pooling the resources of the three counties and developing six “work groups” that meet on a regular basis – Access to Care, Community Education, Data, Family/Loved Ones/Allies, Law Enforcement and Naloxone.

He also noted the significance of funding provided by the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

“The funding is very important in that it enabled the task force to hire someone (a project coordinator) with a dedicated focus,” he said. “They see the value in what we are doing.”

The meeting also featured reports from the chairpersons of the work groups and task force evaluators, updates from the GRHF President Matthew Kuhlenbeck and GOW Task Force Coordinator Christen Ferraro, and a summation of the state’s new bail reform law by Wyoming County District Attorney Donald O’Geen (see story below).

Access to Care – John Bennett and Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, executive director and project director, respectively, at Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse and Holli Gass, clinic director at Spectrum Health and Human Services, outlined the numerous services and programs that have been instituted in all three counties – programs such as expanded jail services, childcare for patients, crisis housing and certified peer recovery advocate training.

Bennett also said that a 16-bed detox center and recovery recreation center in Batavia and a 25-bed women’s and children’s residence in Albion are on the horizon (with the recovery center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant expected to open by the end of February).

Community Education – Sherri Bensley, a GCASA employee, explained the role of this work group is to facilitate the task force meetings, including setting up venues, speakers and vendor tables, and to coordinate media campaigns with the three county’s hospitals.

Specific ongoing projects are educating the senior population about opioids and the handling of prescription medications and assisting the task force in distributing “Dispose Rx” packets.

Data – Brenden Bedard, Genesee County director of community health services and deputy public health director for Genesee and Orleans counties, said the role of the evaluators is to ensure that task force initiatives are data-driven, to get that data to the community and to use the data to support grant applications.

In addition to the county overdose death rates mentioned above, he reported that there were 23 opioid overdose deaths in the three counties in 2019 – down from 38 the previous year – and that Naloxone (Narcan) administration – given to those who are overdosing from opioids -- has decreased in all three counties since 2017.

Bedard also said that more than 2,000 pounds of prescription drugs were collected during “take back days” in both 2018 and 2019.

Families, Loved Ones and Allies – Sue Gagne, coordinator of the Recovery WOW program, said that the goal of her work group is to support families of those in active addiction or recovery and families of those who have died as a result of drug use.

She reported that the group plans another Overdose Awareness Day this summer at Austin Park.

Law Enforcement – Batavia City Police Chief Shawn Heubusch touted the tri-county law enforcement collaboration on projects such as drug drop-off and jail programs, and participation in the Police Assisted Addiction and Recovery Initiative that creates non-arrest pathways to treatment and recovery.

Naloxone – Chairperson Charlotte Crawford reported that more than 1,300 people have been trained in the use of Narcan, including all of the peer recovery advocates.

A video, “Narcan After Care,” can be viewed on the GOW Opioid Task Force website at https://www.gowopioidtaskforce.org/.

Tom LaPorte, Ph.D., research scientist with the Center for Human Services Research, University of Albany, said that evaluation objectives include reaching 1,800 users per year with opioid information, deploying peers or recovery coaches to assist 90 percent of opioid patients and increasing the number of people trained to administer Narcan by 500 per year.

“This provides us with useful feedback that providers of services can use for data-driven decision-making,” he reported.

In closing, Kuhlenbeck and Ferraro spoke of the importance of making sure grants were available for programs in rural counties, and set goals as follows:

-- Establish and implement policies and protocols at United Memorial Medical Center, Orleans Community Health/Medina Memorial Hospital, and for contacting Peers/Wyoming County Community Health System Recovery Coaches on call every time a person arrives at the emergency department due to opioid use.

-- Establish a three-prong approach: peers called, bridge scripts are given, and naloxone training is provided.

-- Schedule and conduct doctor-to-doctor trainings and conversations in each county on opioids, non-opioid pain management alternatives, and limiting opioid prescription writing.

-- Conduct at least two community education events around non-opioid pain management alternatives, and create and publish two press releases or news articles on non-opioid pain management alternatives.

-- Communicate with Buffalo and Rochester hospitals to share policy best practices and advocate for and locally lead action toward improvements.

The next quarterly meeting of the GOW Task Force is scheduled for April 23 at a site to be determined.

Photo above: Taking part in Wednesday's GOW Opioid Task Force meeting were, from left, Christen Ferraro, task force coordinator; Donald O'Geen, Wyoming County district attorney; Paul Pettit, public health director of Genesee and Orleans counties; Laura Paolucci, Wyoming County public health administrator, and Matthew Kuhlenbeck, Greater Rochester Health Foundation president.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 24, 2020 - 8:07am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GOW opioid task force, bail reform law.

The Wyoming County district attorney on Wednesday spoke out against New York State’s new bail reform rules, stating that they will adversely affect law enforcement’s efforts to assist those struggling with drug addiction.

Speaking at the GOW Opioid Task Force quarterly meeting at the Quality Inn & Suites in Batavia, Donald O’Geen said that state lawmakers’ decision to require automatic appearance tickets or “released on own recognizance” status for all misdemeanor and non-violent felonies means that many who are using opioids or other drugs won’t have access to treatment programs provided in local jails.

“This law takes us back to where we we’re 30 years ago,” he said, adding that the powers-that-be in Albany passed these new rules without the input of the police agencies or attorneys who deal with crime on a regular basis.

Bail now can only be set on certain qualifying offenses, such as first- and second-degree assault, rape, manslaughter, sexual abuse, but suspects must be set free for crimes such as second-degree burglary, grand larceny, non-violent homicides and, according to O'Geen, "every single drug case.”

“We want to treat the users, but you have to (be able to) get after the dealers,” he said.

O’Geen said the reform measures are based upon a “false narrative” – that poor people are languishing in jail because they can’t make bail.

“That is definitely not true,” he said. “The ones incarcerated are the flight risks and those who present risks to public safety.”

The district attorney also noted that the time restrictions to turn over documents to defense lawyers – in most cases, 15 days – put a huge burden on police, district attorneys and labs.

“This is not CSI New York. You don’t go to a commercial break and the labs (results) are done,” he quipped.

He said that the new rules, which took effect on Jan. 1, have created a “lawlessness system” where many of those charged don’t show up for their court appearance.

“If they don’t show up, we have to send a second notice,” he said. “If they fail to appear again, we have to wait another 48 hours and send out another notice before we can issue a warrant for their arrest.”

O’Geen said pressure is being put on Gov. Cuomo to modify the law, but criticized the State Assembly for “holding fast” to the current provisions.

“I think the only way it will happen (modifications) is through his budget,” he said. “That’s how it passed in the first place.”

According to a Siena College poll released on Tuesday, more New Yorkers are taking O’Geen’s view.

The poll found that 49 percent of respondents said the changes were bad for New York while 37 percent said they were good for the Empire State, a far cry from April 2019 poll numbers that showed that 38 percent said it would be bad and 55 said it would be good.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

January 16, 2020 - 11:26am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

Press release:

The quarterly meeting of the GOW Opioid Task Force is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 22 at the Quality Inn & Suites Hotel on Park Road in Batavia.

Residents of Genesee, Orleans, and Wyoming counties wanting to gain or share information regarding the opioid crisis are invited to attend.

“The purpose of this meeting is to address the growing opioid crisis by sharing information across several sectors and to monitor the task force’s progress in our tri-county region,” said Christen Ferraro, project coordinator. “You do not need to be a member (of the task force) to attend.”

Ferraro said the meeting will feature more than 10 community resource tables from agencies across the region.

“Our work groups will share their highlights of 2019 and plans for the upcoming year,” she said. “The Law Enforcement Work Group will be giving a presentation on the new bail reform law -- going into more detail on what it means and how it might affect our area – and task force evaluators will discuss their role and share and their findings from last year.”

She said representatives of the Greater Rochester Health Foundation will talk about the grant that supports the task force and how to connect with the organization to apply for community health grants.

For more information about the GOW Task Force, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

To attend the meeting, visit the Eventbrite link here to RSVP, or contact Ferraro at [email protected]

Disclosure: Written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

December 28, 2019 - 12:22pm

Press release from the GOW Opioid Task Force:

Come join us for an exciting meeting to showcase our past year as the GOW Opioid Task Force and learn what's ahead for us in 2020!

Our Quarterly Meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 22nd at Quality Inn & Suites hotel in Batavia, located at 8250 Park Road.

The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. with a free networking lunch served at noon. A Narcan training will follow at 1 p.m. for those that are interested. 

If you are interested in tabling at the event please contact, Christen Ferraro, Greater Rochester Health Foundation project coordinator, at 585-815-1863.

For more information and to register, visit our Eventbrite invitation link. We hope to see you there!

Space is limited, please RSVP today!

December 10, 2019 - 9:26pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

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Press release:

Batavia native Christen Ferraro has been hired by Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse as project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force.

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett announced the appointment of Ferraro, who received her bachelor’s degree in Social Sciences Interdisciplinary with a concentration in community and mental health from the University of Buffalo earlier this year.

A Batavia High School graduate, Ferraro said she recently moved back to Batavia from Buffalo and is excited to connect with task force stakeholders in the tri-county area.

“I missed the community and am thankful to be able to have a role in bringing agencies and people together to take on this epidemic,” Ferraro said. “Our goal is to continue the momentum that Allison (Parry-Gurak) has developed.”

Ferraro is replacing Parry-Gurak, who accepted the director of treatment position at GCASA’s Albion clinic.

As part of her college program, Ferraro served as an intern with the Genesee-Orleans Youth Bureau from August 2018 through May 2019, assisting with event planning, supervision, Youth Court and Youth Lead.

The GOW Opioid Task Force currently has more than 350 members from across the tri-county region.

Members represent various sectors of the community, including public health, mental health, human services, local government, substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies, law enforcement, EMS, faith-based groups, health systems and medical practitioners, education, businesses, concerned individuals, families, and individuals in recovery.

The task force project coordinator oversees six “work groups” – access to care, community education, data, family & loved ones, law enforcement and Naloxone, and two subcommittees – hospital policies and faith-based – and provides periodic progress reports to a steering committee.

For more information about the GOW Task Force, go to www.gowopioidtaskforce.org.

Photo: Christen Ferraro, new project coordinator of the GOW Task Force, at her desk at GCASA in Batavia.

Disclosure: Story written by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

October 10, 2019 - 1:55pm
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force.

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Submitted photo and press release:

The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force has been selected as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year by the New York State Association for Rural Health.

The award was announced at the organization’s conference from Sept. 25-27 in Niagara Falls.

Nominated by Julie Gutowski, vice president of Clinical Operations and Services for Spectrum Health & Human Services, the task force was recognized for its efforts in developing an emergency department screening process used at local hospitals. It helps to identify people using opioids, then connects patients with a Peer Advocate or Recovery Coach in addition to a referral for treatment.

The NYSARH also mentioned the task force’s tri-county crisis line, which has resulted in a measurable decrease in drug overdose visits to local hospitals as well as opioid related deaths between 2017 and 2018.

“It is truly a great honor for the GOW Opioid Task Force to be recognized as the Outstanding Rural Health Program from the New York State Association for Rural Health,” said Allison Parry-Gurak, task force coordinator. “I am humbled every day by the amount of passion and dedication our tri-county region has shown to ending the opioid crisis for our communities.”

Parry-Gurak said the task force has “embraced a tri-county approach to our mission,” realizing that rural communities thrive when there is grassroots support.

“The task force is a wonderful example of the strength and impact rural communities can have when they collaborate to address public health concerns,” she added. “While we have had great success thus far, our work is not finished yet.

"We accept this award on behalf of our members and our community partners, but also on behalf of our community members that we have lost to the opioid crisis, those who are still fighting, and the family members and loved ones who have been impacted.”

The goal of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force is to address the growing opioid crisis in the tri-county area. Formed in 2017, it currently has more than 350 members from across the tri-county region.

Members represent various sectors of the community, including: public health; mental health; human services; local government; substance use disorder treatment and recovery agencies; law enforcement; EMS; faith-based groups; health systems and medical practitioners; education; businesses; and concerned individuals, families and individuals in recovery.

There are six active work groups that meet regularly to address the needs of the community.

John Bennett, executive director of Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse, expressed his gratitude to the task force, which includes several GCASA staff members.

“Congratulations to Allison Parry-Gurak for her great work coordinating the task force and for Shannon Ford’s guidance in assisting her,” Bennett said. “And also to the many staff who sit on or chair a subcommittee of the task force.”

The mission of the New York State Association of Rural Health is to improve the health and well-being of rural New Yorkers and their communities. Functioning as a “voice for rural health,” the NYSARH is a statewide organization that advocates at the national and state levels on behalf of its membership.

Photo at top: The Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force was honored recently by the New York State Association for Rural Health as the Outstanding Rural Health Program of the Year. From left are Matthew A. Kuhlenbeck, president & CEO of Greater Rochester Health Foundation; Paul Pettit, director Genesee & Orleans Health Departments; Charlotte Crawford, Lake Plains Community Care Network; Nicole Anderson, GCASA; John Bennett, GCASA; Allison Parry-Gurak, GCASA; Shannon Ford, GCASA; Holli Gass, Spectrum Health & Human Services; Rosalie Mangino-Crandall, GCASA.​

Disclosure: Mike Pettinella is a GCASA publicist.

August 29, 2019 - 2:29pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GOW opioid task force, batavia, video.
Video Sponsor

GOW Counties Overdose Awareness event at Austin Park in Batavia.

See also: Overdose Awareness Day highlights work of peers, need for more support for recovery

August 29, 2019 - 10:29am
posted by Mike Pettinella in news, GCASA, GOW opioid task force, OASAS.

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The number of recovery centers in New York has grown significantly in recent years, and they are making a huge difference in the lives of those struggling with substance use disorders, according to a high-level official of the state’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day at Austin Park in Batavia, Robert Kent, chief counsel for OASAS, said the Batavia area will be well served by the opening of the Genesee/Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse’s recovery recreation center at the former Bohn’s Restaurant building on Clinton Street Road.

The Overdose Awareness Day event brought about 150 people together from Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming and Monroe counties in an effort to raise awareness and share information about substance use and options for those in recovery. About 20 agencies, including law enforcement, took part in the three-and-a-half-hour program.

“We know there’s value (in recovery centers) … we’re starting to see things go in the right direction, but we realized we’re nowhere near where we need to be,” Kent said. “The recovery center here (in Batavia will flourish as) the community connects with the people who need support.”

Kent, who has worked for OASAS since 2007, said there were only three such centers in the state prior to 2015 – in Brooklyn, Rochester and Delaware County.

“When the epidemic took off, we went on our own and added another dozen – and they work,” he said. “We’ll have around 30 by the end of 2019. Ultimately, they become more like community centers instead of recovery centers.”

Carlee Hulsizer, youth recovery program specialist with Youth Voices Matter New York, echoed Kent’s sentiments.

“We definitely need more recovery support,” she said. “Prevention, treatment and recovery … we need more (resources) to sustain them.”

Overdose Awareness Day organizers said that collaboration is the key to lifting people out of the cycle of substance use, treatment and relapse.

“We have three communities coming together to support those in recovery,” said event promoter Allison Parry-Gurak, who is project coordinator of the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force. “Because of this, we now have 400 members (of the task force) across the three counties.”

GCASA Executive Director John Bennett said he was “so proud of all the recovery warriors out here and I know we’re making a difference in our community right now.”

Bennett reported that GCASA is set to take ownership of the former restaurant next week and hopes that it will be open by Dec. 1.

“Maybe even by Thanksgiving so we can have Thanksgiving dinner,” he said. “That would be a great way to kick it off.”

The event drew many volunteers – most of them dressed in purple T-shirts printed with the hashtag # End Overdose. Their work as peers (Certified Recovery Peer Advocates) did not go unnoticed by several speakers, who thanked them for their commitment to standing up alongside those in recovery.

“Peers are the bomb,” said Lori Drescher of the Rochester-based Recovery Coach University. “These recovery coaches are trained and have certification, and are helping people find their way and keeping others in their recovery.”

Drescher then acknowledged all of the peers in the crowd and asked them to come up front where she was speaking.

Among the agencies represented at the event were the YWCA of Genesee County, Wyoming County Mental Health Department, Rochester Regional Health, Genesee County Health Department, Villa of Hope, Missing Angels, (Town of) Gates to Recovery, Horizon, Orleans Recovery, GCASA, The Bridge, VA WNY Health Care, Spectrum Health & Human Services, New York State Police, Gates Police Department, City of Batavia Police Department and Genesee County Sheriff’s Office.

Live music was provided by the band, Groove.

Disclosure: Story by Mike Pettinella, GCASA publicist.

Photos – from top: Scott Davis, left, and Larry Catoe Jr., both in recovery, let attendees of Wednesday’s Overdose Awareness Day know where to begin their quest for information about treatment and recovery; Robert Kent of OASAS spends a moment in the shade with Julie Gutowski, left, and Holli Gass of Spectrum; Gina Henry, GCASA prevention educator, treats the children at the kids’ booth; Lori Drescher of Recovery Coach University recognizes the recovery peers.

August 1, 2019 - 4:15pm

The GOW Opioid Task Force announces the availability of a Post Narcan Administration Video.

It was created by the Naloxone Work Group of the Task Force and launched at the quarterly meeting last week.

This video emphasizes an important message: individuals should go to the Emergency Department AFTER Narcan has been administered for an opioid overdose.

The Task Force members are very proud of the video and greatly appreciate all of their local partners who participated in this project and Tall Girls Design, the marketing partners who created an end product that surpasses expectations.

The video can be viewed right on their Facebook page here.

It is hoped that you find this video genuine and helpful as the Task Force continue sto work to end the opioid crisis in the GOW region.

Please feel free to share this video and spread this message.

If there are any questions or specific needs for the video please do not hesitate to reach out.

Allison Parry-Gurak 

Project Coordinator

Phone: 815-1889

July 16, 2019 - 4:32pm

Press release:

As many of you may know, the family, loved ones, and allies of the GOW Opioid Task Force are hard at work planning the first-ever Overdose Awareness Day for the GOW community from 4 to 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday Aug. 28th at Austin Park, Batavia.

This event will be a special time for the community to come together to raise awareness, share information, and support each other as a community. We will be having local area speakers, live music, FREE Narcan training, a kid’s zone, and food, and much more!

If you are interested in having a table at the event please complete the Vendor Table Registration Form and send it to Sue Gagne -- Family, Loved Ones, and Allies Work Group co-chair -- by 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug.17. Email it to her at: [email protected]

For more information, be sure to visit the website at: www.gowopioidtaskforce.org

We look forward to seeing our communities come together to continue to bring awareness to those in our families and community struggling with substance use disorder.

July 11, 2019 - 3:20pm
posted by Billie Owens in GOW opioid task force, addiction, recovery, aid, news.

A Message to Families from the GOW Opioid Task Force:

By Sue Gagne

Whenever a family member struggles with any serious ongoing condition, everyone in the family is significantly affected. To find out a loved one has a substance use problem can be heart-wrenching.

If you know someone with a substance use disorder, you may find yourself struggling with a number of painful and conflicting emotions, including guilt, shame, self-blame, frustration, anger, sadness, depression, anxiety and fear. Those emotions can often overtake our lives and cause stress, burnout, fatigue, inability to sleep and more issues that can affect our own health.

When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant instructs you to put your oxygen mask on first, before helping others. Why is this an important rule for ensuring survival? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. This is an important metaphor for those of us who have loved ones with substance use disorder. A reminder that we need to take care of ourselves.

You may feel overwhelmed, but there are things you can do to help yourself. We all know we need to get enough rest, exercise, and eat right. Here are a few other things that will be helpful:

Learn all you can about substance use and addiction. Addiction is a disease, not a character defect! According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “As a result of scientific research, we know that addiction is a disease that affects both the brain and behavior. We have identified many of the biological and environmental factors and are beginning to search for the genetic variations that contribute to the development and progression of the disease. Scientists use this knowledge to develop effective prevention and treatment approaches that reduce the toll drug abuse takes on individuals, families, and communities.”

Don’t go it alone! Shame is one of the biggest reasons people don’t seek help. It may help you to know that no one, and no family, is immune from addiction. Like any other chronic disorder, addiction to alcohol and other drugs afflicts people regardless of age, income level, educational background, race, ethnicity, religion/spirituality, and community. Many families deal with addiction. You are not alone ~ there is support!

Know that Recovery is Possible! Although it takes time, people do find recovery from addiction. Many individuals find recovery and continue on to live fulfilled lives. There are many pathways to recovery including 12-step meetings, peer-support, Medication Assisted Treatment, and more.

To learn about more about addiction, to connect with support, and to find resources related to addiction and recovery, visit the GOW Opioid Task Force website at www.gowopioidtaskforce.org

July 9, 2019 - 2:54pm
posted by Billie Owens in news, Stafford, GOW opioid task force, pain management.

The speakers for the upcoming GOW Opioid Task Force Quarterly Meeting are announced.

They are:

  • Dr. Matthew Fernaays, MD, PhD, Pembroke Family Medicine/GCASA will be discussing what pain is and how opioids work
  • Patrick Privatera, MS, PT, ATC, president of Village Physical Therapy & Village Fitness will present on non-opioid alternatives to pain management with a focus on non-surgical approaches
  • Dr. Hemant Kalia, MD, MPH, UMMC Pain Clinic/Rochester Regional Health will share his expertise on non-opioid alternatives to pain management with a focus on surgical and medical approaches.

The meeting will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday July 24th, at the Stafford Fire Hall. It is located at 6153 Main St. in Stafford.

Please join us as the following local professionals share their knowledge and expertise on non-opioid alternatives to pain management:

Speakers will begin promptly at 10 a.m. and conclude remarks by 11:30 a.m.

To register for this event please visit our website at: www.gowopioidtaskforce.org and click the link right on our homepage.  

If you are a community agency and have a local event you wish to share with Task Force members please email Allison Parry-Gurak at:

[email protected]

June 24, 2019 - 1:31pm
posted by Billie Owens in Stafford, Announcements, GOW opioid task force.

The quarterly meeting of the GOW Opioid Task Force will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 24in the Stafford Fire Hall, located at 6153 Main Street in Stafford.

The focus will be "Non-opioid Alterntatives to Pain Management." The public is invited to attend this free event.

Come and join us for a discussion about this topic and get a first look at our new Post-Narcan Administration video.

We will also be having local professionals speak and there will be numerous vendors to share their expertise.

For more information and to register, visit:   gowopioidtaskforce.org

The task force is supported by a grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation.

March 19, 2019 - 2:44pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GOW opioid task force, opioid epidemic, news, notify.

blondellopioid2019.jpg

There is a lot of attention paid to opioid addiction treatment, Dr. Richard Blondell told an audience at the City Church Generation Center in Batavia today, but not enough effort is given to preventing addiction in the first place.

"The bottom line of this opioid epidemic is we cannot treat our way out of this epidemic," Blondell said. "We cannot incarcerate out of this epidemic. We can't legislate our way out of this epidemic. What we really have to do is prevention."

Blondell is vice chair of addiction medicine and a professor in the Department of Family Medicine at SUNY Buffalo. He spoke today at a workshop for faith leaders sponsored by the Genesee-Orleans-Wyoming Opioid Task Force.

Drawing on science, history and statistics, Blondell made the case that it's very difficult to successfully treat somebody for opioid addiction; therefore, to end the current epidemic, society needs to produce fewer addicts.

That begins with doctors, he said but includes families and individuals who need to be more aware and better educated about addiction and prevention.

The causes of addiction are both genetic and environmental, Blondell said.

About 10 percent of the population is genetically susceptible to opioid addiction. Those people, when exposed to opioids, usually through prescription medication, are much likely to become addicts.

The addiction for them is a disease.

An addict has about a 5 percent chance of dying in any given year. 

"The average life expectancy of a heroin addict is about 10 years, most are gone in 20," Blondell said.

Much of the blame for the opioid epidemic can be placed on Arthur M. Sackler, a medical marketing executive in the 1950s who, among other things, introduced the world to Valium, the first multimillion drug.

"It didn't treat anything actually," Bondell said. "Even though Valium was the number one prescribed drug in the country it was not clear what disease it treated."

The Sackler family went on to own Perdue Pharma, the company that introduced OxyContin. 

That pain pill was sold to doctors as non-addictive if used for pain.

Then the insurance companies got involved, Blondell said. They stopped funding pain-management regimes, which could cost thousands of dollars but were effective, in favor of prescription pain medications. And if doctors didn't prescribe enough pain pills, they would get low patient satisfaction scores from patients who said, "he didn't do anything for my pain."  

Doctors started prescribing opioid-based pain medications "like skittles," Blondell said.

Patients who become addicted to pain pills often, usually, turn to heroin, which is cheaper and easier to get. About 75 percent of heroin addicts started with a prescription to either the addict himself or to a friend or family member.

There are two types of treatment for addicts, neither high success rates -- counseling or medication.

In counseling, an addict receives psychological therapy, or they might live in a home and where they can learn adult life skills but if they are physically addicted, brain condition related to addiction is not treated. That is where medication, such as methadone, come in.

Blondell said all treatment methods should continue but that isn't the final answer on the epidemic. We've never treated our way out of an epidemic, he said.

People who say addiction is a choice really don't understand opioid addiction, Blondell said.  

Everybody is addicted to something. Addiction is essential to survival. We're all addicted, for example, to water.

But what substances, such as illicit drugs and alcohol do, is trick the brain into thinking that substance is a higher priority than other addictions, such as food.

"So people say to me, this is a behavior," Blondell said. "It's not really a mental illness or it's not a disease. It's not a disorder. It's really just a behavioral problem. To which my question is, what organ in the body produces behavior? Is it the kidneys? Is it the liver? No, it's the brain. So it's the brain that produces the behavior that we see and pass judgment on."

If we're going to end the epidemic, Blondell said, doctors need to be more cautious and judicious in when and how they prescribe pain medications. Patients who receive them need to be better educated about taking the prescribed amount for only a short period of time. Parents need to ensure they control the distribution of pain medication to their teen children, and ensure they actually take them when dispensed so they're not hoarded so five or six can be taken at a time. Everybody needs to be better educated about the nature of addiction and how to avoid it.

February 12, 2019 - 3:11pm
From the GOW Opioid Task Force:
 
The GOW (Genesee, Orleans, Wyoming) Opioid Task Force is excited to announce the opportunity to become a Peer Recovery Coach.
 
This training has been grant funded by the Health Resources and Service Administration and therefore is FREE.
 
Trainees should have a high school diploma or equivalent and lived experience is preferred -- in recovery, affected family member, experience working in the SUD/Recovery field.
 
Training is six-weeks in length (46 hours total) and you must commit to completing the program. Space is limited!
 
Training will take place at the Lake Plains Community Care Network at 575 E. Main St. in Batavia. Please check out the website and flier for more information here.
 
As part of the Community Based Recovery Support Training Project, training is offered to a select group of committed community members seeking to achieve NYS Peer Recovery Professional Certification.
 
This enables them to serve families and individuals affected by Substance Abuse Disorder with evidence-based recovery supports, skills and strategies.
 
The workshop facilitators are Lori Drescher (CARC, RCP) and Keith Greer (LCSW, PCC, PRC), who are professional coaches, recovery advocates and facilitators with a combined 55 years of experience.
 
If you have specific questions please contact Charlotte Crawford at [email protected] or by phone 585-345-6110.
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