Clark County drug overdoses on track to break records due to pandemic

Clark County drug overdoses on track to break records due to pandemic

CLARK COUNTY, Ind. (WAVE) - As of September, Clark Memorial Health reported 159 drug overdoses in Clark County, which is more than the previous two years. According to their ER data, 128 were reported in 2019 and 103 in 2018.

“Over the last couple of years, we really made a lot of positive changes in our overdose numbers,” Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said. “Drug overdoses were down nearly 50% as far as deaths and ER visits and things like that. Then as soon as COVID hit, it spiked right back up.”

Recovery programs were canceled, jobs were furloughed, and many people were quarantined. It left those in recovery with fewer resources.

“If the year would end today, we would’ve already surpassed our last couple years of totals,” Dr. Yazel said.

Now the county will get help through a national grant. $213,000 dollars from the National Institutes of Health will go towards enhancing training with drug overdoses, specifically with the PulsePoint app.

Clark is one of the top U.S, counties to use the app, which alerts to a nearby overdose so a health official can rush over to help.

“The grant is to take that idea and put more structure to it,” Dr. Yazel said. “To work with a couple other pilot counties to improve our outreach and effectiveness of our training.”

One of those outreach programs is Clark County CARES, a grassroots organization that raises awareness and helps with local recovery.

“Clark County is a largely rural county and the hospital is in the further south end of it,” Clark County CARES organizer Carolyn King said. “So by having PulsePoint, it can reach people in Borden, Henryville, New Washington, and Charlestown. If they’re on PulsePoint, they’re much more likely to get help.”

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