Seen in: MSN.com
Tuesdeay, July 7, 2023
Saratoga County unveils new tool for substance abuse surveillance
Feb. 7—BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. — At a press conference at the Saratoga County Public Safety Building, county officials unveiled a new data collection tool that will allow near real-time monitoring of opioid addiction and overdose in the ongoing fight against substance abuse.
The tool, a Substance Use Surveillance Dashboard, takes data input from county services and organizations such as police, EMS, and medical facilities. The data is analyzed using an automated system that looks for markers indicating an uptick in opioid use, “hot spots” of opioid overdoses, and trends from preventative programs. The results, presented in near real-time, allow county services to anticipate potential overdose cases, track illicit drug dealers, and identify areas in need of preventative services.
The technology has the potential to save lives by preventing overdose deaths through faster availability of services and resources.
“Here in Saratoga Count we’ve made fighting the scourge of opioids a top priority,” said Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Chairman Theodore T. Kusnierz, Jr. at Tuesday morning’s press conference.
“This is a topic that none of us want to stand here and talk about, but it’s becoming more and more important that we be proactive about it,” commented Clifton Park Town Supervisor Phil Barrett, who is also Chair of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors Health and Human Services Committee. “We’ve asked families in this county struggling with the ravages of addiction how can we support them.
“The ideas we received from them are what we’re putting into action.”
In addition to the Surveillance Dashboard, resources are being made available to those affected by addiction such as support groups and people Barrett described as navigators, whose job it is to guide people on their journey to healing. The Dashboard can help determine where those resources are needed most at any given time.
Dr. Daniel Kuhles, Saratoga County Department of Health Commissioner, described the Dashboard’s goal as providing “comprehensive, precise, time-sensitive data.” Data accuracy is established with a baseline of information that was entered by hand from county records over the last several years.
Kuhles explained that when Dashboard data indicates a spike or uptick in opioid activity, there are a number of things that can happen in response. The county can hold free distribution popup events to distribute Narcan (naloxone), a medication used to mitigate the effects opioids. EMS stations can change their staffing patterns to make sure there is extra coverage in case an overdose is reported.
Police departments can adjust their patrols to keep an eye on areas with higher opioid activity, watching out for illicit drug traffickers and making sure an officer who is trained in Narcan use is on shift. All of those responses can happen immediately, providing faster and potentially lifesaving support thanks to the near real-time speed of the data output.
“It’s truly going to save lives,” said Capt. Dan Morley of the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. “It’s going to make our job easier.”
Trends and patterns indicated by the Dashboard can also help with proactive prevention. It can show school districts in affected areas that will benefit from additional resources and support from The Prevention Council. Executive Director Janine Stuchin described how schools are an important place to raise awareness and extend support, including teaching students the importance of The Good Samaritan Law, which states that anyone who tries to assist in good faith in the event of a medical emergency is protected against legal retaliation.
“The Dashboard will help identify resource and treatment gaps, and communities where we can target education,” Saratoga County Mental Health & Addiction Services Commissioner Dr. Michael Prezioso commented.
“This is one way to be proactive and provide more resources to the people on the front lines,” Barrett said. “When we identify issues, we can immediately respond to them because we’ve got real-time data. In working together, we can make a difference for Saratoga County families.”
To view the Substance Use Surveillance Dashboard at work, visit Savealifeto.day. For more information, visit the Saratoga County website at www.saratogacountyny.gov and click on the Department of Health webpage.
Saratoga County Mental Health & Addiction Services Commissioner Dr. Michael Prezioso describes the use of the surveillance tool. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)Saratoga County Mental Health & Addiction Services Commissioner Dr. Michael Prezioso describes the use of the surveillance tool. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)Clifton Park town supervisor and Chair of the Saratoga County Health and Human Services Committee Phil Barrett speaks about services available to people affected by overdose. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)Clifton Park town supervisor and Chair of the Saratoga County Health and Human Services Committee Phil Barrett speaks about services available to people affected by overdose. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)Saratoga County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dan Kuhles speaks about the importance of the data collected with the surveillance tool. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)Saratoga County Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dan Kuhles speaks about the importance of the data collected with the surveillance tool. (Melissa Schuman — MediaNews Group)
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