Overdose deaths in county increase

Published 8:05 am Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Coroner’s office receives state funding

ROME TOWNSHIP — Although the overall overdose numbers in Lawrence County are down from years past, the number of overdose deaths have gone up this year, according to newly-appointed county coroner Dr. Ben Mack, who gave a report at the county commission meeting Tuesday afternoon at the fairgrounds.

“Overall, our overdose death rate has actually increased, even though our actual overdose numbers are down,” Mack said. “We’re already at about 11 this year, and last year we only had about 15, so that’s a little concerning. But, hopefully, we won’t see any more of that, with the drug task force and the number of things that are going on throughout the county.”

Mack also spoke about $1 million in funding from the state his office started receiving over a two-year period in order to divide the money amongst overdose cases to help reimburse the county for toxicology screenings.

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“So far, this year, we’ve received two payments from that, one for $830 and one for $970,” Mack said. “So that’s more money coming into the coroner’s budget that wasn’t there before.”

He added that the state is also currently trying to set up similar funding for autopsies, which he said would be a big help to the county as well.

“Right now, our autopsies cost about $1,300 for each one,” he said. “And that’s not including the transportation to Dayton where those are performed.”

In addition, he said that the Ohio State Coroner’s Association is in the process of setting up an electronic recording system, which would make accessing information easier.