ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Advocates in Rochester and around the world marked International Overdose Awareness day Wednesday.
Governor Kathy Hochul ordered multiple state landmarks to be lit purple and silver at night, including the Fairport Lift Bridge over the Erie Canal. But advocates are calling on the governor and other decision-makers to do more to stop the increase in overdose deaths.
Members of Upstate Organizing gathered in downtown Rochester Wednesday night to remember those who died and educate the community.
“We’re currently losing a New Yorker to a preventable overdose every 90 minutes,” said UO Executive Director Luke Grandis. “I say preventable because every overdose is a policy failure. We have tools disposable to implement, like overdose prevention centers.”
Overdose prevention centers are seen as key to solving the opioid epidemic. They’re described as controlled health care settings where people can use pre-obtained drugs under the supervision of trained professionals. The nation’s first OPC opened in Manhattan last November.
Local lawmakers who support OPCs recognize there’s still resistance.
“We have to come to terms with what’s happening in our community,” said Monroe County Legislator Mercedes Vazquez Simmons. “We’re having multiple overdoses on a daily basis and it’s time for us to come to terms with what we’re seeing in our community and provide the necessary resources.”
Last month Monroe county launched a 24-hour opioid hotline and expanded access to naloxone — the medicine used to reverse an opioid overdose.