Franklin County hosts Opiate Crisis Summit to help tackle epidemic


COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Shocking stats were read off at the Franklin County Opiate Crisis Summit on Wednesday. Two people die every day due to the opiate epidemic according to the Franklin County Coroner’s Office, and Ohio was listed 4th in the nation for highest deadly overdoses.

This is parents, children, sisters, neighbors, colleagues dying because of addiction and overdose. The Opiate Crisis Summit joined local experts plus agencies out of state, social workers and the public to gather together to try to find a solution. A community action plan to this ongoing epidemic.

Franklin County Coroner Dr. Anahi Ortiz says 55 people died from fentanyl-related overdoses in January and February. A drug that’s 100 times more potent than heroin.

Dr. Ortiz met with Mark O’Brien, the Director of Opioid Overdose Prevention and Treatment in Baltimore at a conference back in August. The two teamed up and really think a positive impact can be made here in Franklin County by following the 3 prong system.

“In Baltimore we have a three-prong approach to respond to this crisis that includes naloxone distribution. This is about training everybody in our city to save a life. Public education we make sure that people in the community know the risks of the medications and illicit opioids of heroin and what they can do to save a life get treatment, find recovery and the third prong is expanding access to addiction treatment,” said O’Brien.

Not only did the speakers talk about opiate overdoses but also neonatal syndrome from mothers who are addicted and give birth to children who then need special treatment and increased numbers of hepatitis C in Franklin County. Events like this today help create awareness and Dr. Ortiz said the call to action is to come together as a community to help save lives.

“Our children’s services in the state of Ohio are in crisis,” says Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine – and much of it has to do with an increasing number of children who are taken in because their parents’ drug habits have made them unable to care for a child.

“Many have witnessed their parents overdose or even die,” DeWine continued on Wednesday afternoon in Columbus as a new program, Ohio Start, was announced to help children deal with the trauma of having an addicted parent.

14 Southern Ohio counties will use the program, which is currently schedule for 2.5 years. If Ohio State is deemed successful, it could grow throughout the state.

One of the counties involved in Gallia County in Southeast Ohio. Gallia County Children’s Services Director Russ Moore say of the 18 children in foster care in Gallia County, 17 of them have a parent or parents who abuse illegal drugs. Of those, five are newborn babies whose mothers tested positive for opiates at birth.

The program will begin in April and plans to have statistical data on its impact in six months.

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