Monroe County stepping up efforts to combat uptick in overdoses

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Monroe County is stepping up its effort to curb the opioid epidemic following a record number of overdose deaths last year.

The Monroe County Medical Examiner reported 238 people died from substance abuse last year. In 2019, that number was 181.

That’s a 31% increase in deaths, which is in line with the 29% increase experienced nationwide that led to a record-breaking 93,000 overdose deaths in 2020.

The uptick has continued in Monroe County in 2021.

County Executive Adam Bello says isolation during the pandemic has played a big role as people have less access to mental health services.

It’s a trend he says needs to change this year.

"This year Monroe County is taking unprecedented steps to lean into this issue, to lean in to the help that we can provide to support families in need," Bello said. "And now it’s more critical than ever before that people in our community know to reach out, that they are not alone, and that we are here to help."

Monroe County hired its first-ever Addiction Services Director Dr. Tisha Smith and the county’s Improving Addiction Coordination Team (IMPACT) has responded to more than 220 calls this year.

IMPACT meets with overdose survivors for follow-up visits and regularly does street outreach at homeless shelters, food pantries, homeless encampments and other locations.

The Villa of Hope will be adding home food delivery services while it works on building a new detox center.