GREEN VALLEY — A printed ‘tool kit’ dealing with the issues of prescription opioids and heroin usage in Mercer County was the main order of business at Wednesday’s meeting of the Mercer County Board of Health at the Mercer County Health Center.
Mercer County Health Department Administrator Susan Kadar said the department’s “Prescription Opioid and Heroin Awareness Toolkit” was modeled after one done by the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine and adapted to cover Mercer County’s situation.
The report stated that Mercer County had 61,891 people living in it as of 2016. Of that number, 22.4 percent are without health insurance. The MCHD conducts 1,400 inspections a year and investigated an average of 300 Hepatitis C cases over a two-year period. Of those cases, a great majority were found to have been caused by injection drug use of opioids and heroin. The death rate over that same two-year period from opioid overdoses was sixth in the state was 47.5 deaths per 100,000 people with 71.6 percent obtaining the medication from a friend or relative illegally.
Methods used to deal with the problem include education, Hepatitis/HIV testing, naloxone distribution to first responders and the upcoming needle exchange program, which Kadar said should get started around March 1.
The kit also includes testimonials from Brandon Lafferty of Recovery Point on his personal situation with drug abuse and recovery and MCBOH member Sean Wyatt on his experiences as a nurse and paramedic dealing with drug situations.
“Brandon’s a really swell guy who has turned his life around. They did a good job with this booklet,” she said.
The book will be distributed to schools churches and other organizations, she added.
Kadar said that, contrary to what had been reported in recent articles concerning estranged/former MCBOH member Greg Puckett, the MCHD was indeed conducting HIV testing, with much of the testing done to people who came in for Hepatitis A, B and C treatment and testing.
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