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Dinolfo Announces Grants to Enhance Opioid Action Plan

Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, with Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza, County Court Judge John DeMarco, and Administrative Judge Craig Doran announced a series of grants that will enhance Monroe County’s Opioid Action Plan to combat the nationwide heroin and opioid crisis in our area.

“The opioid epidemic continues to take a heartbreaking toll on families in Monroe County,” said Dinolfo. "That is why we are consistently seeking out and allocating additional resources to programs that will help us improve access to prevention, treatment, and recovery for those dealing with addiction. Our Opioid Action Plan continues to evolve as we work with local, state, and federal partners to identify proactive solutions to this crisis.”

Dinolfo Announces Successful Expansion of Rochester Drug Court

After partnering with Rochester Drug Court Supervising Judge John DeMarco in January to apply for additional resources, Monroe County has received $1.8 million in federal funding over 5 years to serve an additional 50 participants annually. The Court currently serves around 450 participants, bringing the total capacity of the program to 500.

“The Rochester Drug Court has a proven record of lowering recidivism, reducing crime, and improving outcomes for those it serves,” said Dinolfo. “This expansion is a welcome complement to the Court’s already impactful programming and I look forward to serving a growing number of participants moving forward.”

Dinolfo announced the Opioid Response Partnership as part of the Opioid Action Plan, providing details on resources the Partnership would pursue to expand the Drug Court. These new resources allow Monroe County and the Drug Court to expand case management services, create a streamlined system for treatment and detox referrals, and enhance access to and quality of treatment for low-risk, non-violent defendants who are diverted to Drug Court.

“Although medical opinion has long been divided on the issue of abstinence vs. medication-assisted treatment, the latter seems to be gaining respect as an evidence-based approach. By partnering with Monroe County, the Treatment Courts can provide referrals to leading edge treatment,” said Judge DeMarco.

This grant was secured through the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration to support the Opioid Response Partnership.

“We are pleased to participate in this effort to help confront what is truly a public health crisis in our community,” said Judge Doran. “Our treatment courts have been on the front line of this epidemic and the judiciary is acutely aware of the staggering increase in opioid use. This collaboration will enhance the ability of our judges and treatment court staff in efforts to help break the cycle of criminal behavior, incarceration and overdose deaths among drug court participants by providing enhanced resources to high-risk participants. My gratitude to our County Executive; Judges DeMarco, Dinolfo, and Elliott; and our court staff, whose work improves lives every day.”

New Long-Term Treatment and Recovery Outreach

The Monroe County Department of Public Health is also expanding its existing outreach efforts to include individuals who have recently survived an overdose, locating them using data provided by law enforcement and integrating those data with clinical data made available by our local hospitals. As part of the outreach, Public Health staff will make Narcan available, as well as provide information and connection to long-term treatment and recovery options beyond the scope of short-term detox beds. By promoting long-term recovery, individuals struggling with addiction can access a wider array of services intended to break the dangerous cycle of relapse.

The Department of Public Health will also expand access to Suboxone training for primary care providers in both major health networks in Monroe County – University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) and Rochester Regional Health (RRH). Working with colleagues on the Commissioner's Advisory Panel, Dr. Mendoza will support and expand existing training efforts with the goal of increasing the number of clinicians able to prescribe medications like Suboxone for medication-assisted treatment (MAT). Additionally, Dr. Mendoza will work with practices to address barriers to prescribing MAT for those who are already certified.

Suboxone is a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction and can assist with long-term treatment and recovery. Training is necessary as these prescriptions often warrant closer monitoring than medications prescribed for other purposes.

“While access to short-term detox beds is important, our goal is to also increase our ability to manage long-term treatment and recovery for those suffering from addiction,” continued Dinolfo. “These new initiatives in the Monroe County Department of Public Health enhance the level of care available in a sustainable, proactive manner.”

These new Public Health initiatives will be funded in part by a $75,000 grant from the New York State Department of Public Health.

Criminal Justice Diversion Mental Health Drop-Off Center

The Monroe County Office of Mental Health (OMH) has received $589,000 in grant funding to develop a Drop-Off Center to be used by local law enforcement as a street-level diversion. It will utilize established national best practices to enable law enforcement officers to divert a person requiring a mental health assessment and intervention to a location other than jail or a hospital emergency room. When law enforcement officers encounter an individual during pre-arrest, they can choose to divert that individual away from the criminal justice system in a manner that avoids arrest, legal charges and criminal convictions. Instead, they may receive access to treatment, community supports and other assistance.

“Two-thirds of law enforcement bookings have a history of receiving mental health services, half of them in the last five years,” said Dinolfo. “Drop-Off Centers around the nation have proven to be successful in connecting many of these individuals with services they need, having a tangible impact in their lives while also saving time and resources for law enforcement agencies. Our Office of Mental Health will work with police agencies to develop the local Drop-Off Center in a manner that best serves all affected parties.”

Through the provision of mental health assessments and referral services, a Drop-Off Center would provide police with a single point-of-entry to the behavioral health system, which would relieve officers of some of the burden of determining among a variety of options for transporting certain individuals to the most appropriate service. This would also improve outcomes for recipients of care and improve efficiency for law enforcement agencies.

The Drop-Off Center model is a nationally-recognized model that could help divert many of the almost 4,500 annual involuntary transports to psychiatric emergency departments in Monroe County. Almost two-thirds of bookings have a history of services in the public mental health system and one-third have received mental health services in the last five years.

While the Drop-Off Center is intended to serve a large population with a diverse array of mental health needs, individuals also struggling with drug addiction will comprise a yet-to-be-determined proportion of services through the diversion center.