ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Public Health leaders of Monroe County and local medical experts are focusing on combating the rise in deaths and addiction numbers from opioids in Rochester.
In 2020 the Monroe County Medical Examiner recorded 238 deaths attributed to the use of heroin, fentanyl and other related substances. A 31% increase compared to the year before.
County Executive Adam Bello and Dr. Mike Mendoza updated where they are responding to these pandemic obstacles by creating the Monroe County Improving Addiction Coordination Team.
Led by Dr. Tisha Smith of Addiction Services, team members for up to 90 days go out to homeless shelters, food pantries and homes of overdose survivors and supply them with bags of resources like Narcan kits. So far this year, the newly-formed team has responded to more than 220 people experiencing an overdose.
“We have on a typical day responded to overdose survivors’ locations near at their homes, wherever they’ve had their overdose,” Dr. Tisha Smith of Addiction Services said. “If it is a family member, a friend, or a commercial establishment we are going to those locations daily. We also approach our community members daily handing out a variety of services, guides, and information to keep them safe.”
Of those in Monroe County who passed away this year, a little more than half were white males. Doctors however say the number of African Americans suffering from opioid addiction is growing.
Medical experts remind those using other street drugs, these substances can also have fentanyl or other deadly doses in them making any usual intake turn deadly.