Erie County Legislators Looking for More Ways to Fight Heroin Epidemic

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Erie County legislators agree that county programs are having a positive impact on the opioid epidemic. 

Crisis Services told legislators that more than 2,000 people have called their hotline for help, but more still needs to be done. On Thursday, health services leaders gathered to present new ways to approach the crisis. Now, Erie County health officials say they'd like to have an RFP process so that multiple health organizations can access funding. 

Last year, $1 million of health services funding was left over in the county budget despite the services currently being provided. Health officials say the remaining funding can be used for new efforts like buying more of the latest form of Narcan, helping the Erie County Holding Center provide services and creating an Amber Alert-type system when bad batches of drugs hit the streets. 

"They've made some recommendations around this being on the thruway signs such as where you might see a yellow or Amber Alert or Silver Alert as well as radio and television," said Erie County Mental Health Commissioner Michael Ranney.  

It's going to take years to get the opioid epidemic under control, but health officials say a multi-pronged approach is key. The RFP process was not approved by the Legislature Thursday, but legislators say they plan to continue discussing the new health services ideas and implementing them as soon as possible.

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