Sam Pirozzolo is fighting to ensure the people of Staten Island get the help they need.
The devastating scale of the current opioid crisis is no secret. From coast to coast, people of all ages are dying of opioid overdoses, and countless more are having their lives dramatically altered by the abuse of these drugs. This problem is particularly prevalent throughout the five boroughs of New York City, including Staten Island.
In fact, Staten Island has the second-highest rate of overdose deaths per capita of the five boroughs, trailing only the Bronx. So, when a settlement was brought against drug companies to the tune of $1.5 billion dollars, it seemed sure that Staten Island would be allocated at least some of those funds. After all, it’s more than clear that the people living there and struggling with addiction need it. That is not currently the case, however, due to what is essentially a technicality, more than anything else.
At the heart of this matter is the fact that the settlement funds have been directed toward the hospital system that serves New York City. And, as it would happen, Staten Island is not home to any of the hospitals in the system selected. Each of the other four boroughs has a hospital in within the structure, so they will easily be included, but not Staten Island. If distributions continue to take place as planned by using the hospitals as the sole conduit to get help to the people of New York, Staten Island will be left in the cold – unless, of course, a brand-new hospital connected with this system is built, and that’s a long shot.
Assemblyman Sam Pirozzolo is attempting to stand up to this plan and fight for the people of Staten Island to get the resources he feels they deserve. As a starting point, he is asking for a change to the plans for how the funds will be utilized to make sure this locale is included in some fashion. If that doesn’t happen, his plan would be to move toward pushing legislation to require it. With so much money available in this settlement, even directing a small portion of it toward “the island” could make a significant, meaningful difference in the battle against opioids.
Why is the use of these funds such an important issue? Simple – people are dying regularly as a result of the opioid epidemic, and many more are negatively impacted even if they manage to live through the experience. In 2021, more than 37 out of every 100,000 Staten Island residents died from an accidental overdose of one of the drugs in this category. That’s certainly a concerning number and one that highlights the need for as many resources as possible to be directed toward this part of the city.
If the nation is going to get a handle on the ongoing opioid crisis, it seems sure that significant resources will need to be distributed across the various areas that are being hit by this issue. Staten Island is fighting to secure the portion of this settlement that it believes it deserves, and it won’t be surprising to see other similar situations play out across the country.