Rochester, N.Y. — The opioid epidemic is getting new attention after five people died from apparent overdoses.
Three people were found dead of a suspected overdose on Grand Avenue. Six children were inside at the time.
Drug counselors say it's a stark reminder of the drug problem and the need to be prepared.
Where Stephanie Forrester goes, so does Narcan.
"I'm in my car right now and I have four bags of it," she said. "I don't go anywhere without it."
She's a recovering addict who co-founded Recovery All Ways. Forrester says heroin has been replaced with Fentanyl - and that every batch is bad.
What happened on Grand Avenue may not have been preventable, even with Narcan.
"A couple of weeks ago, RAW raw had to Narcan someone and use multiple doses - five or six - to bring them back. And it's terrifying," she said.
Attention to the opioid epidemic, and efforts to fight it, have been sidelined because of the resources needed to fight COVID. But lessons from the pandemic are also proving to be useful to fight the opioid epidemic.
"We’ve laid the foundation for collaboration that we wish we had before to base the opioid efforts on and I think we have more collaboration now and we have to strike while the iron is hot," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County's health commissioner.
What happened on Grand Avenue highlight the impact of an overdose on families. It's something Forrester knows first hand.
"I lost my husband to an overdose," she said. "I’ll never forget that day I had to tell my son – and the first thing my son asked was, 'Mommy, was it an overdose?'"
Dr. Mendoza told 13WHAM that while the health department has not been able to dedicate as much as he'd like to the drug epidemic, he said the department is getting back to it and that it remains a priority.