Erie County will receive more than $3.4 million in federal grant funding to combat the opioid epidemic.
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz joined Rep. Brian Higgins, Erie County Probation Commissioner Brian McLaughlin and Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein on Tuesday to announce the funding.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
More than $1.8 million in DOJ funding will come in the form of two grants and will be used to implement the Probation Opioid Response Initiative, which will focus on expanding services to offenders diverted to probation. It will also implement an Opioid Overdose Review Board that will help inform future public health policies related to opioid addiction.
The Probation Opioid Response Initiative Program will use a validated risk assessment tool to identify probationers who are at risk for opioid overdose and use that information to create treatment plans. The county will hire a peer navigator to assist probation officers who are dealing with opioid issues. The antidote to opioid overdoses, nalaxone, will be given to both probationers who have been identified as opioid users, as well as probationers who are deemed to be at risk of overdosing.
The Opioid Overdose Review Board will be modeled on similar anti-opioid efforts from around the nation. It will help identify and address the underlying factors that contribute to opioid overdoses and use that information to create and modify intervention strategies and public health policies with the ultimate goal of reducing opioid overdose deaths in Erie County.
The Erie County Department of Health will receive $1.6 million over four years to support existing Erie County Opioid Task Force projects. Those projects will have a particular emphasis on linking people who have already survived an overdose to treatment, expanding Emergency Department access to opioid overdose treatment. The money will also be used to ensure all first responders throughout the eight counties of Western New York have access to naloxone.