Health Care Action Team Discusses Community Drug Problem

The drug epidemic that is creating a cloud over the Jamestown community was discussed by city officials Thursday.

During a Health Care Action Team meeting at the Jamestown Area Medical Associates Building, 15 S. Main St., Jamestown, the problem was discussed by several area officials, which included Harry Snellings, Jamestown police chief and public safety director.

Snellings said the main drug of choice seems to be heroin, again. He said for awhile, prescription drug abuse was higher, but recently it seems heroin has stepped to the forefront.

”We have had it in every neighborhood in the city,” he said.

Snellings said the police department is still receiving a lot of reports of prescription drugs being stolen. He said the Jamestown Police Department takes all the stolen prescription drug reports they receive, which some police departments don’t. He said when they receive the police reports he doesn’t know if the person is telling the truth about having their prescription stolen or if they are using or selling drugs. Snellings also talked about how there is no way to track how much crime is being committed due to the city’s drug problem. He said you can track how many burglaries or larcenies occur, but don’t know if it is tied directly to drugs.

The group also talked about how to dispose of prescription drugs when someone is done using them for their ailment. Snellings said the community has a day where people can bring their leftover prescriptions to a location so they can be disposed of properly. Christine Schuyler, county public health director, said there should be more than one day for community members to get rid of prescription drugs. Marie Carrubba, Jamestown City Council Ward 4, said legislation should be passed to assist pharmacies in becoming a safe place for people to dispose of their remaining drugs.

The Health Care Action Team also discussed an application for the group’s recruitment grant. Dr. Peter Walter spoke to the group about Eric Arnone, who is finishing his residency in urology. Walter said Arnone did a job shadow with him when he was in high school, and then was educated at Jamestown Community College, University at Buffalo and their medical school. He will be done with his residency in 2015.

Walter said he is a native to the Jamestown area, with a wife who also is a native and an area school teacher.

”I think it is a great opportunity to recruit a local guy,” Walter said. ”You have to really try to recruit local talent.”

Walter said Arnone also has been trained in robotics. WCA Hospital operates a robotic surgery department. They utilize a da Vinci surgical system, which has assisted the hospital in implementing groundbreaking surgical techniques with an extra dose of precision.

Next week the Health Care Action Team will also be holding a meeting at the Jackson Center on Wednesday to talk to local foundation representatives. The action team will talk to the representatives to help raise money for the physician recruitment grant to attract more doctors to the area. The grant is also used to help keep more local residents who have received medical training in the area, as well.

”This is a very important presentation to foundation representatives,” said Dr. Lillian Vitanza Ney, Health Care Action Team member.

The Health Care Action Team is a working group of the Strategic Planing and Partnerships Commission, and was formed to focus on the impact of health care on development in the community, as well as accessible, high-quality health care for residents.

HCAT membership includes the SPPC co-chairs, members of City Council, SPPC members, physicians, WCA hospital, the Chautauqua County Health Network, the Chautauqua County Health Department, the Resource Center, Jamestown Community College, the Chautauqua County Office of the Aging, Chautauqua Works, the Jamestown Renaissance Corporation and foundation representatives.