Delgado Holds Panel Discussion on Combating the Opioid Crisis in Upstate Communities

October 10, 2019
Press Release
Congressman discusses work to address epidemic with law enforcement, first responders, medical professionals, and those in recovery from addiction

GLASCO, NY—This morning, Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) convened a panel discussion with law enforcement officers, medical professionals, non-profit organizations, and those in recovery from addiction to discuss combating the opioid crisis throughout New York’s 19th Congressional District and upstate communities.

Click here for photos of Rep. Delgado’s community panel.

Following an introduction by Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan, Representative Antonio Delgado began the panel discussion, “I appreciate you all joining me this morning for this important discussion about a crisis in our communities that affects every one of us. I want to take a moment to thank each of our panelists for the work they do every day for our communities and for taking time to be here this morning to share their insights, their work, and their experiences.”

His remarks continued, “Addressing this crisis in our communities is an urgent—and ought to be a non-partisan issue.” Delgado SAID, “I have discussed this crisis at length with my Health Care Advisory Committee, which includes voices from all eleven counties in the district. And as I’ve held twenty-six town halls at this point, it comes up repeatedly. My heart breaks every time I am confronted with a constituent—be it a mother, a sibling, or a father who has had to endure the pain of loss to addiction. During this in-district work week, I have decided to focus almost entirely on this crisis and I have been hearing from folks all across the community working on the front lines and doing life-saving work to respond to overdoses, treat those in recovery, and hear from patients about living in recovery from addiction… These are brave folks that I’ve had the ability to engage with and interact with.”

Rep. Delgado’s remarks also focused on the resources in our community available to those in recovery, “Our community is home to a number of resources doing life-saving work to treat those recovering from substance abuse,” and highlighted programs at Ellenville Regional Hospital, Samaritan Daytop Village Residential Treatment Program and their work with women veterans, as well as Catholic Charities’ work to assist those in recovery from addiction, and meeting with veterans in Delaware County who are prescribed medication to treat chronic pain from wounds sustained defending our nation. “My conversations this week and in previous months reinforce that addressing addiction requires a multi-pronged approach. This approach includes support for those living with addiction through medication assisted treatment and de-stigmatizing addiction with more focus on drug courts rather than incarceration.”

The Congressman’s opening remarks also referenced legislation he sponsored to address addiction, “I joined my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce legislation to address access to treatments for addiction. The Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment Act, or MAT Act which addresses the difficulties folks face in seeking treatment for addiction. My MAT Act would remove regulatory barriers to buprenorphine and other addiction medications that prevent opioid overdose deaths and give those suffering with this horrible disease a second chance.”

Rep. Delgado was joined by the following panelists:

Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department Investigator Bruce Baker 

The Schoharie County Sheriff’s Department was one of the first rural police departments in the country to join the Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion or LEAD program, which gives police flexibility when dealing with substance abuse programs and low-level crimes.

Ms. Ashima Butler, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, Ellenville Regional Hospital

Dr. Butler discussed the hospital’s work to address opioid addiction through the Medicaid Accelerated eXchange (M.A.X.) Series. Rep. Delgado visited the Ellenville Regional Hospital on Monday, October 7.

Mr. David Desando, RPH, Former Director of Pharmacy, Cobleskill Regional Hospital

Mr. Desando, RPH,  discussed his position as former Director of Pharmacy at Cobleskill Regional Hospital. Rep. Delgado visited Cobleskill Regional Hospital last week and heard about the role pharmacists can play in addressing the prevalence of opioids.

Sergeant Julio Fernandez, National Guard Counterdrug Task Force

Sergeant Fernandez focused on the Counterdrug Task Force in the New York Region which works to build coalitions and bring resources and highly skilled personnel to address the opioid crisis to communities that wouldn’t otherwise have it.

Dr. Hugo Hanson, Emergency Medicine, Health Alliance Hospital

Dr. Hugo Hanson works in Emergency Medicine at the Health Alliance Hospital and discussed their extensive work to combat opioid addiction.

Mr. Ben Riker, CRPA, Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego Counties Inc.

Mr. Riker from the Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego Counties Inc. discussed their work to treat those recovering from addiction in Delaware and Otsego Counties.

Dr. Dean Scher, Chief Executive Officer, Catholic Charities of Orange, Sullivan, and Ulster

Dr. Dean Scher discussed Catholic Charities’ work to support those in recovery from addiction. Rep. Delgado visited their facilities in Monticello on Tuesday, October 8.

Chief Peter Volkmann, Chatham Police Department, Chatham Cares 4 U

Chief Volkmann discusses the opioid crisis in Columbia County and Chatham Police Department’s initiative Chatham Cares 4 U, which connects users of opioids and other addictive drugs to resources, instead of arresting them.

As a member of the Freshman Working Group on Addiction, Rep. Delgado has made addressing the cause of opioid addiction a top priority in Congress. Earlier this Spring, Rep. Delgado joined colleagues on both sides of the aisle to introduce the bipartisan Mainstreaming Addiction Treatment (MAT) Act. The bill, H.R. 2482, would end an outdated redundancy in federal law that restricts health providers from prescribing buprenorphine, a proven treatment that has helped countless Americans suffering with a substance use disorder. Providers can already prescribe the medication for pain management but are forced to go through a burdensome process to apply for a special DEA waiver to prescribe it to treat addiction. Last month, Rep. Delgado spoke on the House Floor during National Recovery Month and urged action on this legislation.