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2 local advocates will help divvy up opioid settlement dollars

Different forms of opioids.
File Photo
Opioids come in different forms, but can all be deadly.

Western New York will have two local advocates at the table when its time to divide up the state's segment of the cash to flow in, as lawsuits against opioid makers and distributors are settled.

Perhaps over 1 billion over several years will be cut up by New York State's 21-member Opioid Settlement Board. On the board are Save the Michaels of the World founder and President Avi Israel and new appointee Horizon Health Services CEO Anne Constantino.

Horizon has extensive services and facilities to treat drug addiction. Constantino said she wanted to be on the board to represent this region.

"I advocated to be on this board because I want to make sure that Western New York gets its fair share," she said. "Sometimes, it's hard when we're dealing with New York City and, of course, they have needs and issues down there, but Western New York has suffered and Western New York needs their share of resources. So I will be on there. Avi's going to be on there with me."

Constantino said the needs are across the board, from enough beds for treatment to enough doctors and counselors to treat the patients. Right now, she said Horizon's 193 beds are constantly full and turning over.

"We need doctors, nurses and trained therapists. We need people with lived experience to be working in this field and being able to make a decent living working in the field, helping people. We need an army," she said. "We lost last year 105,000 people to just drug overdose."

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.
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