State Sen. John Velis secures $125,000 in fiscal Senate budget to combat the opioid epidemic


(MassLive) – State Sen. John C. Velis, D-Westfield, vice-chair of the Substance Use and Recovery Committee, announced Tuesday, that $125,000 has been secured in the Senate’s fiscal 2023 budget to combat the opioid epidemic in Western Massachusetts.

Of the funds, $50,000 would be earmarked for Tapestry Health of Springfield to purchase a Mass Spectrometer Device, while $75,000 would go to Baystate Noble Hospital in Westfield for opioid treatment and prevention.

Both amendments, adopted into the Senate’s budget, will be considered in a conference committee with the House of Representatives.

Velis cited a recent report by the state Department of Public Health on the 2,290 opioid-related overdose deaths reported in 2021, an 8.8% increase from 2020.

“The numbers being reported by the Department of Public Health are utterly heartbreaking and shine a light on how hard this pandemic has been for individuals struggling with substance use,” Velis said in a statement. “This period of isolation and stress has been challenging beyond belief and many people have been unable to access essential care. It is my hope that this funding will help Tapestry and Baystate expand their work and save lives throughout our communities.”

Initially used by military forces facing bioterrorism, Mass Spectrometer Device can identify when fatal substances such as Fentanyl are present in a drug supply.

Tapestry has partnered with Brandeis University for the past couple of years to use their Spectrometer Device monthly. Since they have their own device, they can expand on this initiative and prevent more regional fentanyl-related deaths.

“We are deeply grateful to Senator Velis for this amendment. Fentanyl and other substances that contaminate the drug supply are driving the tragic increase in opioid deaths. A spectrometer gives the community the ability to identify these contaminants and alert folks to their presence. It is a truly lifesaving tool,” Cheryl Zoll, CEO of Tapestry Health, said in a statement.

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