BUFFALO, NY - 2 On Your Side is asking the majority leader of the Erie County legislature about comments he made about a drug hotline that's intended to help addicts get help.
Thursday at a committee meeting on the drug epidemic Legislator Joe Lorigo called the hotline a failure.
But does that really square with the data?
Lorigo, who has been critical of the Poloncarz administration's handling of the drug epidemic, says the hotline has not worked in the eight months it has been in existence, but still believes that the hotline should remain in operation. Experts battling the drug epidemic say it takes time for these types of services to become utilized more often.
REPORTER: Calling the hotline a failure why did you say that?
"I did say it wasn't a success, I did say it was a failure, the reason being is that we haven't helped the people that we're supposed to be helping," Lorigo said.
Since Erie County launched the drug hotline with Crisis Services -- about 1,900 calls have been received.
REPORTER: How do you square that with how many calls have actually been coming in?
"The 1,900 calls is a fine number," Lorigo said, "since the hotline has been instituted we've asked for specific details on those calls and who's been helped have they resulted in any significant solutions and we don't get those.
On Friday, 2 On Your Side received new numbers from the county saying about 400 people have been admitted to detox or inpatient treatment.
REPORTER: How do you think they feel when they're part of a failure or a failed operation?
"This hotline as it stands can be run better and should be helping people more than it is," Lorigo said.
REPORTER: How many calls or how many people should be helped through this hotline for it not to be a failure?
"As many as we possibly can," Lorigo said.
REPORTER: And what if that number is what's happening right now?
"I don't know that number," he responded, "I was questioning whether the cost of the hotline is really the best way to spend our money and if we can do it cheaper."
He thinks that the money for the hotline could be divided and go to other areas like paying for more treatment beds, or using the money to hire counselors.
Anne Constantino the CEO of Horizon Health said Thursday:
"It takes time, sometimes they're not ready to hear and they're not ready to do having a crisis hotline is highly valued," she said.
Lorigo is calling for a meeting with all stakehlders in this fight against the epidemic, from mental health to hospitals, to counseling services and find out what they need in terms of funding to help battle the epidemic.
Legislator Patrick Burke proposing one million dollars to battle the crisis, so that's one large area of funding being talked about. The number for the hotline: 716-831-7007.
Here are more numbers from the county:
Total Calls between 8/1/2016 to 4/21/2017 (today) as of 1pm: 1,921.
• Over the past 2 months, we have seen a 60% increase in the weekly call volume. Number of weekly calls ranges from 42-63
Received help from calls:
• 100% of our callers are offered supportive counseling and referrals to community resources
• 43% received support/encouragement/education
o 18% of these were solely for Requestor calls
o 16% of these were solely for Client calls just needing support
o 9% were solely for those looking for Information and Referral
• 25% Referral to Detox, Outpatient Providers, or Inpatient Services
• 23% referred to same day assessment counselor of Renaissance Addiction Services
o 74% kept the assessment appointment
o 98% were given referral appointment for the level of care needed
o 96% presented for outpatient appointment
o 96% were admitted to detox or inpatient treatment
• 9% (Other)- peer support, family support navigator, emergency services, suicide prevention line
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