Clark County leaders: Drug ‘emergency’ first step, more action needed


President Donald Trump’s declaration that the drug crisis is a public health emergency is a step in the right direction but local leaders said more action is needed to end the scourge that has killed a record number of people in Clark County this year.

In Clark County, a record 97 people have died of drug overdoses so far this year and local law enforcement have responded to more than 1,000 drug overdoses, local leaders said. About 15 people per day die of drug overdoses in Ohio, Attorney General Mike DeWine said earlier this week.

READ MORE: DeWine: ‘Never seen anything like’ drug crisis hitting Ohio

“It’s a move in the right direction but we want to see some action,” said Melanie Silvus, the director of the Clark County chapter of the Families of Addicts organization.

While an emergency was declared by Trump on Thursday, it doesn’t mean “the faucets are turning on and there’s money running to Clark County already,” Health Commissioner Charles Patterson said.

“It’s a beginning,” he said. “We’ve planted our flag in the ground and said, ‘From this point forward, we’re going to work on this.’ But that means it’s going to take awhile for this to all flow down hill.”

RELATED: New program seeks to reach Clark County overdose patients sooner

As a result of the public health emergency declaration, access will be expanded to telemedicine services, including substance abuse treatment for people living in rural and remote areas.

State and federal workers will be able to be deployed more easily and U.S. Department of Labor grants for the unemployed will have greater access. It also will shift funding for HIV/AIDs programs to provide more substance abuse treatment for people already eligible for those programs.

Trump also directed other departments and agencies to exercise their own available emergency authorities to address the crisis.

MORE COVERAGE: Demand for, debate over Narcan soars in Springfield

Nearly 500 people have died of drug overdoses in Clark County since 1998, according to coroner’s office records. More than half of those people — 265 — died between 2012 and 2016, the result of the opioid epidemic. Last year, the county saw a then-record 79 drug deaths.

The federal government also can control the flow of illegal narcotics in the country, Patterson said.

“As the price goes up, it will help keep folks from starting,” he said. “That may help some people decide they’re going to seek treatment because it’s not as easy to get and it’s not as inexpensive.”

The long-term key to solving the problem is education, Patterson said. In his speech, Trump said he wants to spend money to educate young people so they won’t start using drugs.

SOCIAL MEDIA: FOLLOW REPORTER MICHAEL COOPER ON FACEBOOK AND TWITTER.

“It’s the No. 1 way to combat this for the future,” Patterson said.

The Botvin Like Skills program has recently been introduced at both Tecumseh and Southeastern local schools this year. Federal money could be used to help enhance those efforts, Patterson said.

“It’s a program that has a track record and positive outcomes in this area,” he said.

Trump also said he wants to remove a federal regulation that allows for a maximum of 16 beds at a treatment facility. Addicts often want to get treatment, Silvus said, but can’t find an opening at a treatment center and have to be put on a four- to six-week waiting list.

“It would be great to see more treatment facilities and it would be great for those who don’t accept Medicaid or CareSource or state insurance that they start accepting it so those people can get into treatment,” Silvus said.

SPRINGFIELD’S OPIOID WAR

‘Perfect’ Springfield couple battles addictions, finds recovery

Springfield native living clean, successful after prison, addiction

Addicts, family members share stories at Springfield recovery banquet

More prevention needed to curb opioid epidemic in Springfield

New program seeks to reach Clark County overdose patients, save lives

Safe h ouses for Springfield overdose patients might save lives

Drug epidemic wreaking havoc on Clark County businesses, economy

Drug crisis traumatizing children in Clark County, state

Money used to fight Clark County drug crisis at risk

More than 100 Clark County law enforcement officers to get Narcan kits

Springfield examines officer, medic safety after Ohio police overdose

20 more overdoses in Clark County during 25-hour stretch

Clark County sees another big spike of at least 40 overdoses in 5 days

Clark County leaders pledge to fight addiction stigma, OD crisis

Clark County to charge addicts who OD and don’t seek treatment

Overdose epidemic spreads, strains Springfield first responders

Clark County drug overdoses double in 24-hour spike



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Crime

California man stabbed to death while dining with daughter on lap
California man stabbed to death while dining with daughter on lap

A California man eating at a steakhouse with his daughter on his lap was stabbed to death Wednesday when a homeless man allegedly walked up and attacked him, CNN reported. Anthony Mele Jr. 35, died Thursday, but his 5-year-old daughter was not hurt, the Ventura Police Department said. Mele was dining at the Aloha Steakhouse, a beachside restaurant...
Lyrid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of the celestial display
Lyrid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of the celestial display

This year's Lyrid meteor shower reached its peak this weekend, and photographers flocked to social media to share some stunning snapshots of the celestial display. See the images below:
Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire in Tennessee, police say
Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire in Tennessee, police say

At least four people are dead after a shooting at a Waffle House in Antioch, Tennessee. >> Read more trending news 
They want kids in this special neighborhood to stay educated in the summer, so here’s what they’re doing
They want kids in this special neighborhood to stay educated in the summer, so here’s what they’re doing

Between 25 and 30 percent of what kids learn in school is lost over the summer, according to an academic study. This learning loss is why Clark State is teaming up with the Springfield Promise Neighborhood to offer a free literacy camp for children this summer and a free college credit course for parents. The camp is open to students, grades Pre-K...
Northeastern is asking voters for $79M for new school construction. Here’s what both sides think.
Northeastern is asking voters for $79M for new school construction. Here’s what both sides think.

Northeastern voters will go back to the polls May 8 to decide whether taxpayers are willing to support $119 million in new schools in the district. The district is asking voters to approve a 37-year, $79 million bond issue that would build two pre-k-through-12th-grade buildings in the district. One building would be constructed on the Kenton Ridge...
More Stories