(WWLP) – Last year, opioid-related overdose deaths in Massachusetts reached a record high, according to a report released by the Department of Public Health last week.

A total of 2,290 opioid-related overdose deaths were reported in 2020, an increase of 8.8%.

Senator John Velis indicated that it has been extremely challenging for people struggling with substance use to access essential care.

“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,” said Senator Velis. “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.”

Tapestry Health amends Velis’ amendment to provide funding for the purchase of a mass spectrometer. These devices were developed by military forces facing bioterrorism to identify deadly substances like Fentanyl in a drug supply. According to toxicology reports from Massachusetts, 92% of overdose deaths in 2020 involved Fentanyl. Fentanyl can be detected on a mass scale using a mass spectrometer device, which is more reliable than test strips for detecting Fentanyl.

“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,” said Cheryl Zoll, CEO of Tapestry Health.

He has secured funding in the Senate Budget to help combat this epidemic. This includes $50,000 for Tapestry Health’s new device which can identify fatal substances present in a drug supply and $75,000 for Baystate Noble Hospital’s Opioid Treatment & Prevention Grant Program.

These amendments will now be considered in a conference committee with the House of Representatives.