County Executive Pat Ryan Announces Decline in Opioid Fatalities in Ulster County

Posted February 18, 2020

County-wide opioid deaths were down 41.1% in 2019 compared to the previous year

KINGSTON, N.Y. – Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and the Ulster County Department of Health announced today that opioid related fatalities have significantly decreased in Ulster County. In 2019, there were 33 opioid related fatalities in comparison to 56 the previous year, representing a 41.1 percent decrease. One of County Executive Ryan’s ‘Big Five’ priorities is to ramp up County-wide efforts to combat the opioid epidemic. In July of last year, County Executive Ryan set a goal to reduce opioid related fatalities by 50 percent in two years. 

“The sharp reduction in opioid fatalities is a sign that the steps we have taken to combat this public health crisis are working,” said Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan. “Even with this good news we still have plenty of work to do. This is an issue that I take extremely seriously and we will continue to work with our many partners to continue to raise awareness and work to save lives.” 

County Executive Ryan’s 2020 budget provided additional funding to the Sheriff's Department to support Sheriff Figueroa’s innovative ORACLE program. The funds help provide two new officers who support an overdose response team that includes a plain clothes officer, a mental health professional, and a peer advocate that will respond within 72 hours to meet with individuals who have suffered an overdose.

In addition, Ulster County started implementing a $2.5 million dollar, three year long grant designed to identify and close the gaps in our current prevention and treatment system. 

One of the core parts of Ulster County’s opioid prevention strategy is to work with EMS and community partners to expand accessibility to Naloxone. Ulster County is now tied for sixth place (out of 62 counties in New York State) for EMS Administered Naloxone. Naloxone, otherwise known as Narcan, is a medication that can immediately reverse an opioid overdose.

Opioid-related deaths in Ulster County had increased by 345 percent since 2010, culminating in 2018 with the second highest per-capita rate of opioid fatalities of any county in New York State.