Rockland hopes doctors will curb opioid prescriptions

Posted: Updated:

Rockland County announced new ways to fight the opioid epidemic Wednesday.

Health Care providers from Montefiore Nyack Hospital, Good Samaritan Hospital, Helen Hayes Hospital and others met with county officials in Chestnut Ridge to talk about how they can better train doctors about opioids.

The group said one way to fight the abuse is to lower the number of opioids prescribed so they are sending letters to hundreds of doctors to educate them about the epidemic.

The letter asks all health prescribers in Rockland County to take a pledge and follow three steps. They will educate themselves on safe and effective treatment of pain, screen patients for opioid use disorder and treat addiction as a chronic illness.

Officials say in 2016, 40 people died in the county from overdoses, almost all of them from opioids.

"We need everyone to be on board and realize the importance of working together to decrease the amount of opioids out there," said Rockland County Commissioner of Health Dr. Patricia Ruppert.

Some hospitals in the area already have these rules in place, including Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern.

"A lot of the studies have come out and say non-opioid pain medication is as effective or even more effective than opioid-based pain medications," said Adrienne Wasserman, medical director of the emergency room at Good Samaritan Hospital.

The county previously enhanced law enforcement to get illegal pills off the streets.

"Despite a 100 percent increase on arrests alone we saw the death rate going up," said Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe.

Officials told News 12 that 12 of 14 overdose deaths in Rockland County were from opioids.

There will be a free Narcan training open to the public this weekend at the county office building.

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