Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz says state and county measures to address the opioids crisis are "making a positive difference." Speaking with reporters, he said the county expects some 100 fewer deaths from overdoses this year than previously projected.
"Every time I open up the obituary page and see someone's who's young and has died suddenly, it doesn't take a whole lot for me to contact our Health Department and find out that, yeah, that person died of an opiate overdose," Poloncarz said. "Not everyone who dies suddenly, but many of them."
"This is a long-term effort. This is not something that's going to get fixed overnight," he said, "because if you're addicted to these opioids, you can't get over them overnight. You have to work on them as a long-term project and that's what I think it is, a long-term project."
Poloncarz said unless he receives additional recommendations from the county's opioids task force, he believes the amount of county funds currently being spent on the epidemic "is appropriate" and having an impact.
Poloncarz says the county will continue to fund its opioids hotline and nurses in its Department of Health to assist families dealing with opioids abuse. He also praised New York State for adding more funding to the crisis.
"I'm very pleased that the Governor and the state passed recently the bill to increase funding, by providing more dollars for inpatient treatment facilities and more outpatient treatment," he said. "That's something the state has a responsibility to do. That's where those additional dollars are going to make a difference."
Poloncarz also praised partnerships with local non-profit service providers for making a difference.
By the end of this year, he said the county expects some 400 people to die from opioids overdoses. However, that is down from more than 500 deaths projected earlier for 2016.