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Opioid Settlement Funds Allocated

Written By The Mountain Eagle on 2/2/24 | 2/2/24

By Mary A. Crisafulli

DELHI - Delaware County Supervisors allocated $174,852 of the opioid settlement funds received at the regular meeting on Jan. 24.

Opioid funds are a part of New York Attorney General Letitia James' 'HealNY' initiative that is set to deliver $26.7 million to the Southern Tier to combat the opioid epidemic. Funds come from the March 2019 lawsuit against various manufacturers and distributors - Johnson & Johnson, McKesson, Cardinal Health, American Bergen, and Endo - responsible for the 'opioid crisis.' The county anticipates receiving roughly $930,000 over 18 years and has currently acquired $540,965. 

There is ongoing litigation regarding the lawsuit which may result in the county receiving a higher payout, said County Director of Community Services Douglas Elston.

According to Elston, monies are permitted to be used to further develop existing services or initiate new ones, but may not be used to replace existing funding streams.

Supervisors developed a committee tasked with recommending proper allocation of funds. A major goal of the committee is to emphasize self-sustaining endeavors, said Elston. "The Delaware County’s Opioid Settlement Committee has prioritized the areas of prevention and education, serving at-risk populations, and investment in connecting people to the help they need."

Walton Supervisor Joe Cetta, chairperson of the Behavioral Health Committee, said the county has 18 years to spend the funds. "It will go to good use," he said.

The four projects supervisors allocated funds for, per the recommendation of the opioid committee, include DelCovery (a social media application), the hiring of a Recovery Coach, funding to increase treatment outcomes, and development of drug prevention posters.

Once developed, DelCovery will be a social media application where users can seek access to services available countywide. Services include mental health, substance abuse, and human service needs providers. "This will include food banks, suicide prevention, social services, recreational opportunities," said Elston, "The app will provide education and guidance for those seeking services in addressing substance abuse and emotional well-being needs." Supervisors allocated $78,850 for app development and maintenance for one year.

A recovery coach is an individual with personal experience in the struggle of addiction and recovery or is close to someone with such experience who provides peer support. The current recovery coach works within the county jail working with the inmates. Funding of $64,842 was allocated to expand the recovery coach position from part-time to full-time for one year. "The coach will provide on-going support, encouragement, as well as connecting the individual to an array of services upon their release," said Elston.

Funds of $30,460 were allocated to the alcohol and drug abuse service to increase treatment outcomes for one year. "As a rural county, transportation issues often impede client’s successful engagement and competition of treatment," Elston said, "These funds will assist, to some degree, client’s transportation issues, as well as reinforcement for attendance, and client engagement."

The last project is set to develop educational posters to be showcased in school districts throughout the county for $700. The drug prevention poster is called "Which Brain Do You Want?" which uses imagery to display healthy brain functions versus various substance use brain functions. "Visual images are a meaningful way to stimulate interest, provide education, and provide referral for services information for students/families," said Elston.

Elston expects roughly three more proposals for allocation in the coming weeks that will focus on prevention, education, treatment, or identifying gaps in services.

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