ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Health experts say a spike in drug overdoses is creating yet another health care crisis during the pandemic. Now, some legislators in New York are trying to make it easier to help those communities which are really struggling.
Albany County Department of Health Medical Director Dr. Elizabeth Whalen says the spike in drug overdoses during the pandemic has now become a health crisis.
“The rate of opiate overdoses have increased and increased to a troubling degree,” said Dr. Whalen.
“We are seeing more people in New York die of overdose than died on 9-11. As tragic as 9-11 was the opioid crisis on a yearly basis is now worse,” said (D) New York State Senator Pete Harckham.
The democrat represening the 40th district is the Chair of the NYS Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committe and co-chair of theSenate joint taskforce for Opioid addiction and overdose prevention.
He is sponsoring a bill that addresses the lag time in data regarding fatal and well as non-fatal overdoses.He says it ensure that data collected in Emergency Rooms would immediately be sent to the New York State Department of Health.
“This is already being done in Albany County and other counties. We want to take this statewide. To use syndromic surveillance. Basically, Emergency Room visits and extrapolate out based on formulas what theover does pattern ins in a given municipality,” said Harckham.
He says the non-identifying information would enable the state to get things like harm reduction experts or lifesaving Narcan training to communities as well as securing spots for treatment.
He added, “We need to know in real time where the crisis is so we can get resources there to address a problem.”
“I think this would probably do two things. One, is maybe capture or get a better picture of what is actually happening,” said is Stephanie Lao, Executive Director of Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services.
“This would be a mechanism to say, ‘Well this is what we know to be true because you captured it, and these are some options on how to best address the issue,'” Lao.