Family Medicine Physicians on Monroe County Task Force to Combat Opioid Epidemic
Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo recently unveiled a plan to combat the opioid epidemic in the area and announced the creation of an advisory panel. This task force will be convened by County Health Director Michael Mendoza, M.D., who is also a Highland Family Medicine physician, and will consist of medical experts, including individuals from local hospitals. Holly Russell, M.D., also a Highland Family Medicine physician, will serve on the panel.
Dr. Mendoza said they will look at emergency rooms first. "We know that people who present to the emergency department with a nonfatal overdose have fivefold chance of having another overdose; sadly, sometimes fatal," he said. "As I see it, ERs are a logical place to identify individuals who are most likely to benefit from our support."
Dr. Russell said this task force is the first step in finding long-term solutions. “We need to meet people where they are, in whatever way we can," she said. "We can’t just wait for people to come to us. The hope is to meet them when they come to the emergency room for the overdose, and not let them leave without some sort of treatment plan.”
Monroe County saw more than 200 opioid or heroin deaths in 2016. It's still unclear how many people died from overdoses last year. The county executive's plan includes hiring two additional toxicologists to help with autopsies.