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EDITORIAL: Taking on opioids locally

Kokomo Tribune - 11/2/2017

Nov. 02--As Tribune reporter George Myers wrote in his Oct. 26 story, we're dealing with a historically fatal opioid crisis here in Howard County.

"Howard County Coroner Steven Seele on [Oct. 23] released third-quarter death statistics, which officially make 2017 the deadliest year for drug overdoses in county history," he reported. "Notably, 14 deaths from July 1 to Sept. 30 were ruled by the coroner's office to be drug overdoses, putting the 2017 total at 37 overdose deaths, surpassing the previous high of 34 in 2015. There were 24 overdose deaths in 2016."

This news came just days before President Donald Trump declared opioid abuse a national public health emergency.

"Trump's declaration, which will be effective for 90 days and can be renewed, will allow the government to redirect resources, including toward expanded access to medical services in rural areas. But it won't on its own release new dollars," he reported.

It is now up to Congress to add teeth to this announcement by allocating funds within the allotted time period.

"Trump made the declaration citing the Public Health Services Act. The Public Health Emergency Fund reportedly has a current balance of $57,000," reported Scott L. Miley, CNHI statehouse reporter, in his story Tuesday. "Trump's declaration does not provide additional funding to battle the crisis. Instead, it allows for expanded access to telemedicine services including remote prescribing of medicine for substance abuse or mental health treatment."

While we're waiting on the federal government to turn words into action, we're doing anything but sitting on our hands waiting for help to drop out of the sky. Gov. Eric Holcomb has publicly made addressing the crisis among his top priorities. Indiana University is streamlining the sharing of medical records. Seele has made a habit of releasing information on the specifics of overdose deaths, including the specifics of the opioids involved. It's a cliché that those of us from this neck of the woods know how to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. That's exactly what we're doing now. We've got a long fight ahead of us, but we're not remaining idle while Washington gets its act together.


(c)2017 the Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Ind.)

Visit the Kokomo Tribune (Kokomo, Ind.) at www.kokomotribune.com

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