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Erie County: Tower Foundation grant to fight opioid epidemic

by jmaloni

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Thu, Oct 22nd 2015 06:00 pm
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (at podium) is flanked by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein (right) and representatives of the Tower Foundation, Kaleida Health, Catholic Health, the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, HealthNow New York Inc., and Univera to announce a $64,000 grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to strengthen countywide efforts among health care providers to decrease opioid addiction.
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz (at podium) is flanked by Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein (right) and representatives of the Tower Foundation, Kaleida Health, Catholic Health, the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County, HealthNow New York Inc., and Univera to announce a $64,000 grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to strengthen countywide efforts among health care providers to decrease opioid addiction.

Funds to support proactive four-pronged approach to public health crisis

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz announced the receipt of a $64,000 grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation. The funds will be used to develop four proactive programs to target the increase in the number of Erie County residents addicted to heroin and other opioid-based drugs.

"It takes strong, committed community partners to confront a community-wide problem such as opioid abuse, and this grant from the Tower Foundation will aid in educating health care providers on safe prescription practices as well as increase the number of doctors who can prescribe medications to treat opioid addiction," Poloncarz said. "I would like to thank the Tower Foundation, our Department of Health, and our community partners for taking a collaborative approach to this issue."

Tracy Sawicki, executive director of the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, commented, "The devastating effects of opioid use are taking an unprecedented toll in many communities. Since addressing substance use disorders is one of our priorities, the Tower Foundation is pleased to be able to support a range of prevention, screening and treatment options to address this growing problem. We also believe that this investment in physician training and awareness will help doctors provide better guidance to their patients in proper use of these powerful medicines."

"This funding will facilitate the development of educational programs for Erie County health care providers," said Gale Burstein, Erie County commissioner of health. "Given the significant risk of opioid addictions with prescription pain medication, along with our community partners, we will develop and implement curriculum that will inform doctors on safe pain management strategies and smart opioid prescribing practices. In addition, we plan on working with community partners to develop and adopt Western New York provider guidelines to prevent misuse of prescription opioid drugs."

The award also will support training physicians to prescribe buprenorphine and naloxone for medication-assisted treatment for opioid addiction that can be taken at home rather than in a clinic setting. The goal is to increase the number of doctors trained and approved to prescribe buprenorphine and naloxone to patients with an opioid addiction to help alleviate the current bottleneck in treatment.

"By increasing opportunities for treatment and reminding health care providers of the addictive dangers of opioids, we hope to decrease both the number of Erie County residents who become opioid-addicted, as well as the number of residents who suffer from an opioid overdose," Burstein said.

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