Opioid deaths in 2019 in Ulster dropped 41 percent in 2019 with only 33 compared to 2018’s 56, Ulster County Executive Pat Ryan and the Ulster County Department of Health announced Feb. 18.
“The sharp reduction in opioid fatalities is a sign that the steps we have taken to combat this public health crisis are working,” Ryan stated in a press release. Last July, Ryan set a goal to reduce opioid-related fatalities in Ulster by 50 percent in two years.
According to Ryan’s press release, opioid-related deaths in Ulster had increased by 345 percent since 2010, culminating in 2018 with the second-highest per capita rate of opioid fatalities of any county in New York.
Since Ryan and Sheriff Juan Figueroa took office last year, a renewed push to cut overdoses and addiction has taken place. The sheriff’s office’s Oracle program brings a mobile trailer, education and resources all over the county. Funds in the 2020 county budget pay for two new officers who support an overdose response team that includes a plain clothes officer, a mental health professional, and a peer advocate that will respond within 72 hours to meet with individuals who have suffered an overdose. Also, the county has begun using a $2.5 million-dollar, three-year-long grant to identify and close gaps in Ulster’s current prevention and treatment system. The county also continues to work to get Narcan kits, which can save someone having an overdose, into as many trained hands as possible.