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Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman Sounds Alarm on Lack of Opioid Detox Beds in Western Mass

At-Large Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman, Chairman of the City Council Committee on Health and Human Services, is renewing his call for a statewide audit of the availability of medically assisted opioid detox beds along with an analysis of the admission practices of local institutions to identify and address gaps in service for those impacted by addiction in Western Massachusetts.

Lederman submitted a letter again calling for the audit to state officials including HHS Secretary Marylou Sudders and Deirdre Calvert, Director of the Bureau of Substance Addiction Services.

“For years our community partners who work closely on the ground to provide resources to those impacted by addiction have spoken out about the lack of options for residents in Western Massachusetts who are seeking to enter recovery,” said Councilor Lederman, “Limited beds and complicated admission processes, exacerbated by long wait times, are among the primary issues. As long as individuals and families continue to suffer, we cannot and should not step back from providing the most critical services and public health response possible.”

Lederman says community health workers and individuals in recovery have continuously recounted the lack of availability of voluntary treatment beds in Western Massachusetts, forcing individuals to seek treatment as far away as Worcester and Boston, creating financial and social barriers to access.

Councilor Lederman first called for a statewide audit of state funded detox facilities to identify gaps in service in 2019.

Currently, only three medically assisted detox facilities serve Western Massachusetts, and advocates say even those options have been more limited in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic as they have had to reduce capacity.

“Fatal and non-fatal opioid overdoses continue to rise in Springfield and Western Massachusetts. These are not just numbers. They are lives. They are friends, neighbors, and loved ones. Action is needed at the state level to make treatment on-demand a reality and save lives in our communities,” said Councilor Lederman, “The COVID-19 pandemic proved we could move mountains to protect public health. Our response to the opioid epidemic should be equally strong.”

According to data from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health there were 119 fatal opioid overdoses in Springfield in the year 2020, which included 89 Springfield residents.

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