County Executive Pat Ryan Commits to Reducing Opioid Fatalities by 50% in Two Years

Posted July 11, 2019

County Executive Pat Ryan Commits to Reducing Opioid Fatalities by 50% in Two Years

Announces Nearly $3 Million in Grant Funding 

KINGSTON, N.Y. - Joined by Sheriff Juan Figueroa, Commissioner of Health Dr. Carol Smith and members of the Ulster County Opioid Prevention Task Force, County Executive Pat Ryan announced his commitment to reducing opioid related fatalities by 50% in two years. In addition, Ryan announced that Ulster County has been awarded a $2.5 million dollar grant to assist in meeting this goal. 

Ryan appointed Vin Martello as the first ever Director of Opioid Prevention Strategy. Martello, who currently serves as the Director of Community Health Relations, will work to implement the action plan created by the Opioid Prevention Task Force.

The plan, put together with a task force of over fifty organizations, outlines recommendations in three areas - “Reducing Supply,” “Reducing Demand and Improving Treatment,” and “Recovery Services.” 

In addition, County Executive Ryan announced that Ulster County has been awarded a CHASE grant of $2.5 million through Columbia University designed to assist counties in reducing opioid fatalities. These funds will be used over a three year period and will help deliver a comprehensive intervention package that will prevent use of opioids, treat addiction and promote recovery. The NYSDOH has also awarded an additional $216,000 over the next three years for the purposes of connecting residents with needed treatment and services to prevent opioid related overdoses and fatalities. 

Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan

“One of my ‘Big Five’ priorities is to ramp up our efforts to tackle the opioid epidemic because we can not allow this crisis to continue to rip apart our community and our families. We still have a long road ahead of us, but the actions outlined by the Opioid Prevention Task Force along with the nearly $3 million dollars in grant funding will help us turn the tide and save lives.”

Ulster County Sheriff Juan Figueroa  

“People are tired of talk, they want action from their government and law enforcement. In the jail we are working to change how we handle this issue. We are working to set up an emergency hotline to assist those who have overdosed and help them get treatment, as well as work with the impacted family. This is one of my priorities as Sheriff, and I am thankful to have so many partners in Ulster County to combat this crisis.” 

Commissioner of Health and Mental Health Dr. Carol Smith 

“Opioid use disorder is a recurring and chronic brain disease and needs to be regarded and treated as such. While our goal of reducing overdoses and fatalities by 50% in two years is ambitious, I’m confident that through focused improvements and the power of collaboration we can succeed.  I commend our new County Executive, Pat Ryan, for making the opioid crisis one of his top priorities.” 

Opioid related deaths in Ulster County increased by 345% since 2010, culminating in 2018 with highest per-capita rate of opioid fatalities of any county in New York State. Ulster County has also had one of the highest rates of opioid prescribing (6th highest out of 62 counties) per capita.