WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Brett Dahlberg

Brett is the health reporter and a producer at WXXI News. He has a master’s degree from the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism and before landing at WXXI, he was an intern at WNYC and with Ian Urbina of the New York Times. He also produced freelance reporting work focused on health and science in New York City.
Brett grew up in Bremerton, Washington, and holds a bachelor’s degree from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon.

Chad Rank has been taking buprenorphine for years. But he's still coming to terms with what it means for his recovery from more than a decade of addiction to opioids.

"A few months ago I talked to my doctor, and I was like, 'Maybe I want to come off of it,'" Rank said. "It's a real internal struggle: Do I want to keep taking this?"

Buprenorphine is a prescription drug used to help people quit heroin, painkillers, or other opioids. But it carries its own stigma, especially in 12-step programs like Narcotics Anonymous.

The number of people without health insurance in Steuben County has been cut in half since 2014. That should mean more people have access to the health care system. But that’s not always the case, according to Erin Bankey, who manages funds from a state program aimed at reducing hospital visits in the Finger Lakes.

"There’s panic," Marty Teller said, sitting in a conference room in the executive offices of the Finger Lakes Area Counseling and Recovery Agency. "What you’re really seeing is, the epidemic is rising."

For five rural counties around the Finger Lakes, FLACRA is the only provider of certain state-sanctioned treatments for opioid use disorder. On a per capita basis, those counties have some of the highest death rates due to opioid overdose in New York state.


More New Yorkers have signed up for health insurance through the state’s marketplace this year than last, with almost a month still to go in this year’s enrollment period.

More than a quarter-million New Yorkers have enrolled in a plan through the marketplace, which is called New York State of Health.



Enrollment is up in New York’s state health insurance marketplace compared to this time last year.


Frank Femia runs Klubfunstore Guns and Ammo in Henrietta, where the popular ammunition this season is copper bullets.

Wegmans has become the latest grocery store in New York to accept a new way to pay for food.

The grocery chain now accepts eWIC, a government assistance program designed to give women, infants and children the money they need to purchase staple foods.

Previously, the WIC program had required users to match specific paper checks with specific foods and buy all of the eligible items at once. The state health department recognized that was inconvenient, and some WIC participants found the program embarrassing.

Opioid treatment programs in New York have not been using a state database that tracks opioid prescriptions, according to an audit from the state comptroller’s office released Monday.

New York’s I-Stop system is designed to reduce overprescription of controlled substances. It requires prescribers to record when they give a patient opioids, and it allows doctors treating people with opioid use disorder to check the database and make sure they’re not already getting the addictive drugs somewhere else.

Over $2 million of medical debt across New York state is about to be erased.

It’s due to the efforts of two friends, 70-year-old Carolyn Kenyon and 80-year-old Judy Jones, both of Ithaca, who raised $12,500 that they’ve donated to an organization called RIP Medical Debt.