WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Trumbull County Combined Health District is hoping that by tracking trends of heroin, it can help fight the opiate epidemic.
The county is using a state reporting system — used to monitor health problems in all of Ohio’s 88 counties — to track overdoses.
The county can now use the system to monitor both fatal and non-lethal overdoses. Alerts are then sent to everyone with an interest in fighting the problem. The system is triggered when the number of overdose cases are unusually high.
Trumbull County had two alerts since the program started in July. On one day in October, there were 13 overdoses in 12 hours, and three of those people who overdosed died, said Kathy Parrilla, with the Trumbull County Health Department.
The data gets reviewed and can help identify key groups or areas where a direct response is needed quickly.
“In line with this emergency response, we have formed a Poison Death Review Committee to help bring everyone together, review this on a regular basis to ensure that we’re acting and putting resources where they need to go,” said Trumbull County Health Commissioner Frank Migliozzi.
Data from the Poison Death Review recorded 59 confirmed overdose deaths from January 1, 2016 to July 30, 2016.
According to the data, the most overdoses happened in September, and the majority of overdoses occurred in Warren or Niles.
Sixty-three percent of overdoses involved men. The majority of the victims were white. Most were ages 25 to 34, followed by 45 to 54.
The most common drug found during a toxicology of overdose victims was fentanyl, followed by heroin.
Among the 59 confirmed overdose deaths, about 65 percent had no criminal history and most of those people had jobs.
The Trumbull County Health District is also working with doctors on prescribing guidelines for opiates, so people don’t turn to street drugs.
“First and foremost, if something is going on in the community, we have a quick response to it and save lives. Then, we can get individuals the help they need and get them into recovery,” Migliozzi said.
The county has funding for the first year of the program, and Health Department Nursing Director Sandy Swann said she hopes it will have an impact.
“[We need] to work together to prevent some of the drug overdoses and issues in Trumbull County,” she said. “It’s not just one agency’s problem; it’s the whole community’s.”