Truth Pharm Fighting for Additional Drug Treatment Jobs in Chenango CountyPosted: Updated:
Truth Pharm is fighting to add two new positions at Chenango County Behavioral Health Services to provide additional resources to those battling a drug addiction.
"They've had an explosion of cases and yet not an increase in staff," said Alexis Pleus, Truth Pharm Founder.
The non-profit group is advocating for the addition of a Clinical Social Worker and a Community Mental Health Nurse. Pleus says both positions would be 100% supported through the revenue that they would produce and lower the county's tax dollars in the clinic program.
The Community Health Nurse would be able to monitor the physical health of patients and the Clinical Social Worker would allow more clients to be treated and reduce the caseload per staff which would allow for more effective and lasting treatment.
The Head of Community Services for Chenango County, Ruth Roberts was able to secure grant money to fund the positions. Roberts presented a plan to add the new jobs at no cost to the taxpayer to the Chenango County Health and Human Services Committee and it passed. She then brought the proposal to the Chenango County Personnel Department and it also passed.
On February 2, Roberts brought her plan to the Chenango County Finance Committee which voted the positions down.
"Even though these positions were going to be added at no cost to the taxpayer that Finance Committee disproved, did not approve of adding these desperately needed positions for the county," said Pleus.
According to Truth Pharm, Chenango County Behavioral Health Services is the primary resource within the country for addiction treatment. To date, the agency has met the needs of the community but they are now struggling with the demands.
- In January 2018, there were 203 open cases compared to 144 in January 2017, and 123 in January 2016
- Billable services increased 26% over the past three years with no increase to staff
- Admissions are up: There were 41 cases in January 2018 compared to 21 in January 2017
- Treatment success has increased over the past five years
"This is Government controlling the number of services available to people who need them, which is really terrible," said Pleus.
Pleus says Chenango County Behavioral Health currently has five employees who manage 260 clients. Drug and alcohol abuse is becoming an increasing problem and leading to rising costs across the county, according to Truth Pharm.
Alcohol and drug addiction treatment reduces use as well as associated criminal, health and social costs. According to conservative estimates, savings related to reducing drug-related crime, criminal justice costs, theft, and healthcare costs, exceed costs of treatment by a ratio of 12 to 1.
— Truth Pharm
On February 8, Truth Pharm hosted an Emergency Mobilization Meeting where more than 50 concerned residents showed up. Now Truth Pharm is asking Chenango County community members to call, write, and email their Town Supervisor and the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Lawrence Wilcox in support of additional drug treatment services.
"There's a chance that they could vote for it in the full committee or they might cycle it back through the process of the Board Supervisor Committee Meetings, either way, we know now that the Board Supervisors will be aware that residents are watching them, residents are concerned, and residents want these positions added," said Pleus.
Learn more about Truth Pharm and how to get involved here.