Task force tackles opioid epidemic

By TED WADDELL
Posted 10/13/20

MONTICELLO, NY — Everyone knows that addiction to opioids is a real problem, and the county recently zeroed in on the situation by creating a multi-faceted task force.

On Wednesday, October …

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Task force tackles opioid epidemic

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MONTICELLO, NY — Everyone knows that addiction to opioids is a real problem, and the county recently zeroed in on the situation by creating a multi-faceted task force.

On Wednesday, October 7, Meagan K. Galligan, the county’s acting district attorney, held a press conference at the government center to formally announce the goals of the Sullivan County Substance Use Task Force/Opioid Epidemic Task Force (OETF).

“My office, together with NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, Sullivan County Sheriff Mike Schiff, and our local law enforcement leaders, Sullivan County Commissioner of the Division of Health and Family Services Stephanie Brown and many others have joined together to attack the opiate crisis. It’s no secret that the opioid epidemic has hit Sullivan County hard,” Galligan said. The county’s deputy public health director, Wendy Brown, is charged with coordinating the task force.

The Substance Use Task Force/OETF is comprised of eight entities, which in Galligan’s words, “will work together to develop and implement an innovative, multi-disciplinary program to combatting addiction.”

The stated vision of the reconstituted task force is, “Collaboration as a community to reduce stigma, protect the vulnerable, coordinate resources base on data-driven need, initiate and implement prevention and treatment strategies, and thus protect our county.”

NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther heads up the unit in charge of policy reform. After the press conference, she said, “As public servants, it’s our responsibility to educate and protect all of our residents from this addiction. Working together, we can and will save lives...I am proud to be part of this newly reorganized task force.”

Here’s the rundown of the eight units:

• Rapid Evaluation Unit, led by Sheriff Mike Schiff.

• Data Collection & Analysis, led by Lorne Green.

• Emergency Department/Hospitals, led by Johnathan Schiller and Dr. Nicholas Batson.

• H.O.P.E. Prevention, led by Jill Hubert-Simon and Alex Rau.

• Community Support, led by John Liddle and Martin Colavito. 

• Policy Reform, led by NYS Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

• Law Enforcement, led by Meagan Galligan.

• Treatment Programs, led by Melissa Stickle and John Liddle.

“None of us are immune, and the consequences of opiate addiction are grave, not only for the addict but also for the addicted’s family and friends,” said Galligan “The 8-pillar program will ultimately connect addicts to treatment and other vital services, while also removing drug dealers from our streets.”

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