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Grant to help fight drug deaths

County health department to form coalition

The Lawrence County Health Department has gotten a grant to help fight the opioid epidemic.

On Friday, the agency announced it had gotten a $17,000 grant from the Ohio Department of Health, Health Improvement and Wellness Office, Violence and Injury Prevention Program.

“I applied for the grant because I thought there was such a need in this area,” said
Angela Bostick-Doyle MSN, RN. She added that there are so many in this area that wanted to come together to work on the issue. “We definitely needed funding for that. So, when I saw the grant was out there, I thought we should put our hat out there.”

One of the goals of the grant is to from a county-side coalition of officials and residents who have a collective interest in reducing the number of drug overdose deaths.

According to a coroner’s report, there were 44 overdose deaths in Lawrence County from 2015-2017. Of these deaths, 67 percent involved fentanyl and 40 percent involved a combination of fentanyl and heroin. Ironton Police Chief Pam Wagner that there has been seven fatal overdoses in the city since Jan. 1.

In 2016, unintentional drug overdoses caused the deaths of 4,050 Ohio residents, which was a 32.8 percent increase over 2015 when there were 3,050 overdose deaths.

The grant will provide funding for county-level implementation activities to build capacity for preventing drug overdose fatalities while the coalition works toward sustainability and expansion of efforts within the county.

Bostick-Doyle said it is just the beginning stage of creating a coalition.

“We just had our first webinar with the Ohio Department of Health on Thursday,” she said. “So we are in the very early stages and that is why we are asking whoever wants to be involved in the coalition to let us know.”

Other goals of the grant are to develop a community strategic plan with priorities that will help establish goals and objectives and to assemble a drug overdose fatality review board.

This review board will meet annually to review and discuss overdoses and fatalities related to opioid abuse.

“When we create this fatality board, we want to look at the things surrounding the deaths, Bostick-Doyle said. “There are a lot of different types of drugs coming into our area, it’s not just heroin. There is fentanyl; there are people that are making drugs themselves. It is being able to pinpoint all those different things.”

Bostick-Doyle said the coalition will have five meetings before Aug. 31 and then they have to turn their agendas and finance sheets to the Ohio Department of Health to show their progress.

“Anyone that is interested in this and who can be an asset to us, we really want to hear from them,” she said. “We encourage them to be a part of this. If it goes well, we can apply for more grants and keep this going.”

Anyone interested in more information on the grant or in serving on one of the committees may contact Bostick-Doyle at 740-532-3962.