GREENVILLE — Some local businesses are feeling the financial weight of increased drug addiction in Darke County.
According to numbers received from WayneHealthCare based on in-house data, the escalating drug issue has resulted in at least $2.5 million in charges which will go under- or unpaid to the facility.
“Additionally, it is difficult for us to assign a dollar value related to the implications this issue has on the health of our community in relation to communicable diseases,” Vice President of Patient Care Services/CNO Wayne HealthCare Kimberlee Freeman said.
Ohio could see an influx of $26 million in federal funding during this year to help fight the opioid epidemic through the 21st Century Cures Act. To secure up to $26 million a year for the next two years, Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services (MHAS) was required to submit a grant application through the State Targeted Response to the Opioid Crisis Grants program by Feb. 17. States and territories will be awarded funds through a formula based on unmet need for opioid use disorder treatment and drug poisoning deaths. Funding for Ohio’s counties is based on the highest unmet need for opioid use disorder treatment and drug poisoning deaths.
While the county’s numbers of “accidental” drug – related deaths are growing (17 last year and at least 16-18 potential drug-related cases so far this year, according to Darke County Coroner’s office), the numbers are not high enough to generate some federal funds. According to research from Senator Bill Beagle’s (5th District) office, the designations are based on a combination of numbers of deaths, death rates, and fentanyl deaths – Tier 1 being the most impacted by overdose deaths, and Tiers 2 and 3 being less impacted. Darke County is in Tier 3, and the $26 million in funding that Ohio has been granted is likely to be directed at Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties, which together will impact about 75 percent of Ohio’s population.
In addition, Darke County did not receive certain 2016-17 funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). According to Courtney N. Lenard, Health Communication Specialist for the CDC, Ohio received $2,880,000 total funding. September 1, 2015 through August 31, 2016, Ohio received $940,000, and September 1, 2016 through August 31, 2017, Ohio received $940,000 + $1,000,000 in supplemental funding. The supplemental was to support on-going work, including increasing the number of community-based initiatives in high-burden counties and enhancing epidemiological support for counties experiencing rapid increases in overdose morbidity and mortality, Lenard said.
According to Ohio Department of Health (ODH) Public Information Officer Melanie Amato, the CDC Funding was Administered through the Ohio Department of Health to enhance and improve the Ohio Board of Pharmacy’s Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System, and to support local community initiatives in high-burden counties to implement comprehensive prescription drug overdose prevention programs. Those grants were awarded to: Trumbull County Health Department, Stark County Health, Summit County Public Health, Hamilton County Health Department, Ross County Health District, Franklin County Coroner’s Office, Hancock Public Health, Kenton-Hardin Local Health District, Licking County Regional Health District, Mahoning County District Board of Health and Toledo-Lucas Health Department. The ODH also funds three local grants using CDC block grant funding to: Cuyahoga County Board of Health, Clermont County Public Health and Portsmouth City Health Department.
However, Darke County Law Enforcement received about 20 inter-nasal Narcan (naloxone) kits (two doses per kit) last year through a grant from ODH, and is supposed to get the same number this year. The county has received grants and other funding and is hopeful that there might be future funding opportunities with OhioMHAS. Senator Beagle’s office followed up to ask what could be done for the Tier 3 counties. The statewide strategies that will be implemented for counties that do not fall into Tier 1 or 2 groups are under the headings: Workforce Development, Primary Prevention and Harm Reduction/Reducing Opioid Diversion.
To find out more about these initiatives, visit http://mha.ohio.gov/
EDS NOTE: This story is part of an ongoing series titled “Fatal Addiction” that will address the drug problem and effects on residents and resources in Darke County.
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4354. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.