Niece of Philip Seymour Hoffman speaks at Rochester vigil calling for action to prevent overdoses

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Community members in Rochester gathered on Wednesday in solidarity with people impacted by overdoses and to call on the state to act.

The vigil at Liberty Pole was held on International Overdose Awareness Day. Attendees called on Gov. Kathy Hochul to use executive action to create overdose prevention centers.

The proposed centers are health care settings where people can use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained professionals, who can intervene if there is an overdose risk. The centers can link people to trained addiction counselors.

County legislator Carolyn Delvecchio Hoffman was at the vigil. She is the niece of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who died from an overdose in 2014.

“I’m hoping to see a safe injection site in Monroe County,” said Delvecchio Hoffman. “I know to people, sometimes that sounds like a new idea. But really, if my uncle had been using in a safe injection site, then he would still be here and he would have the chance to get sober again. So we would like to see folks be able to struggle in a way that is humane until they’re ready to walk out of that struggle.”

One poll shows that 64% of New Yorkers surveyed support the creation of overdose prevention centers.

So far in 2022, there have been 349 overdoses on heroin or opioids in Monroe County, 81 of which were fatal. Febuary had the highest number of overdoses. In all of 2022, there were 649 overdoses, 130 of which were fatal. You can see statistics on overdoses on Monroe County’s website.

Organizers of the vigil said a New Yorker dies every 90 minutes from a preventable overdose.