Finger Lakes Area Counseling & Recovery Agency (FLACRA) is taking opioid treatment out of the counseling clinic to meet the people who need support where they are — both emotionally and physically — with immediate response services. Wednesday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles E. Schumer visited with FLACRA staff and representatives from Yates County to learn more about the agency’s mobile treatment van and to discuss the need for continued funding to combat opioid addiction.

Noting Yates County has the second highest rate of opioid overdoses in the Rochester and Finger Lakes region, Schumer assured those who met with him that he will push to secure funding for services. “The cost is federal. You can’t expect a small county to bear this cost.” Schumer said.

In the first six months of 2018, there have been 15 opioid overdoses in Yates County, with three fatalities. Over the course of the last three years, Yates County has averaged three opioid overdoses per month. In addition to heroin and prescription painkillers, Yates County has been stricken by the potent and devastating drug fentanyl as well. Over the course of the past two years, at least four people in Yates County have been arrested and accused of selling fentanyl, which can be 100 times more deadly than heroin. Schumer said these statistics plainly illustrate the need to keep fighting the opioid scourge at the ground level, and securing more federal funding to do so is absolutely necessary.

Jennifer Gigliotti, one of 28 Peer Counselors locally, told Schumer about a man in crisis who was helped by the services she could help him access quickly.

Peer counselors work around the clock to support people in the jail and community.

Yates County Sheriff Ron Spike talked about the frustration of seeing addicted people who were jailed and then released from jail die from an overdose within days of being released.

Schumer described his efforts to lock down $3.3 billion in federal funding in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2019 appropriations bill to combat the ongoing opioid crisis.

“FLACRA is on the front lines in the battle against opioids, and I’m honored to stand with men and women who work every day to ensure counseling, education, and treatment services are available 24/7 for Yates County residents,” said Schumer. “Yates County has been battered by the opioid epidemic for far too long, and our efforts to keep families and communities healthy must be unrelenting. Just as I helped secure funding for Yates County in last year’s major funding bill, I vow to continue fighting for more funding to combat the opioid scourge in next year’s budget bill.”

FLACRA provides opioid counseling, education, and treatment to residents of the Rochester-Finger Lakes region from its Penn Yan center and through the use of a mobile van unit. Schumer was given a demonstration of the services that FLACRA provides through the use of this van, and how it helps combat the opioid scourge at the ground level. Schumer said that recently, FLACRA was awarded $1.4 million in federal funding through Opioid State Targeted Response (STR) grants to help efforts in Yates and Ontario Counties, and that some of the funding will be used to purchase a new, larger mobile RV unit. These mobile treatment and prevention units are essential in the ongoing fight against opioids, as they remove barriers to getting people effective treatment.

An increase in the federal funding Schumer pushed for to combat the opioid crisis, means New York State received an additional $25.2 million in federal STR funding. FLACRA was awarded $1.4 million for programs in Yates and Ontario Counties.

The $1.4 million will allow the agency to purchase a new, larger mobile RV unit to provide outreach, education, and rehabilitation services to more members of the local community. The funding is also enabling FLACRA to provide more extensive outreach in its rural service area in Yates County, work it had been limited in providing until this funding became available.

The funding is being used to expand medication-assisted therapies, telemedicine, and jail-based rehabilitative services to address the revolving door of addiction, and to help recruit and train a team of peer specialists who will be deployed out in the community to help people in crisis from the opioid epidemic.

Schumer said he secured $3.3 billion in federal funding to combat the opioid crisis in the FY2018 omnibus spending bill, and doubled down on his efforts to secure a matching amount in the upcoming FY2019 appropriations bill.

FLACRA Executive Director Martin Teller, said, “Senator Schumer’s push to provide additional federal funding to address the opioid crisis is already bolstering our work in Yates County. FLACRA is putting the $1.4 million in federal State Targeting Response grant we received into action by ramping up outreach with new mobile treatment van service, more medication-assisted therapies, telemedicine, and creation of a team of peer specialists deployed into the community to help people suffering from the opioid crisis. Yates has been hit particularly hard by this opioid crisis, and its rural nature means we need additional resources to reach those in need, which is why Senator Schumer’s push to secure billions more in the upcoming federal budget is so critical.”