BATAVIA, Ohio (Nov. 14, 2017) – Clermont County Public Health is seeking residents’ input on a proposed Syringe Services Program. A public forum will be held 6:30-8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 30, at the Clermont County Engineer’s Office at 2381 Clermont Center Drive in Batavia. Public comments will also be accepted through an online survey.
Syringe Services Programs (SSPs) are public health programs that are intended to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. The SSPs provide access to sterile syringes to people who inject drugs. The program can also make referrals to substance use disorder counseling and treatment programs. They also provide education on the prevention of infection and offer testing and referral for treatment for hepatitis C and HIV.
The proposed program in Clermont County would be a collaborative effort between Clermont County Public Health, Mercy Health – Clermont Hospital, Hamilton County Public Health, and the Exchange Project. A mobile van would come to the hospital parking lot one half-day each week to provide the services.
In Clermont County, the rate of hepatitis C infections have risen by 40 percent, and HIV rates have risen by 27 percent over the last five years. Clermont County ranks fourth in Ohio in drug overdose deaths.
“The Syringe Services Program would be a needed resource in Clermont County,” said Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit. “The goal of the program is to lower rates of hepatitis C and HIV, while also providing access to treatment to people with substance use disorder.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control, people who inject drugs are five times as likely to enter treatment for substance abuse disorder and are more likely to reduce or stop injecting when they use a Syringe Services Program.
For more information on the Syringe Services Program, or to complete the community survey, visit www.ccphohio.org.
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Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) is dedicated to the mission of striving to improve Clermont County by preventing disease, promoting health, and protecting the environment. For more information, visit www.ccphohio.org or call 513.732.7499.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Sept. 1, 2017) – The Ohio Department of Health has released its report on 2016 drug overdose deaths. Although the number of overdose deaths across the state increased for the seventh straight year, Clermont County’s overdose death totals dropped for the first time since 2009.
In 2016, there were 96 deaths related to drug overdoses in the county, compared to a record high of 105 in 2015. The finding was just one of several released by the Ohio Department of Health in its 2
016 Ohio Drug Overdose Data: General Findings.
While Clermont County did see a decrease in overdose deaths from 2015 to 2016, its death rate (based on a six-year average from 2011-2016) remains near the highest in Ohio. Only Montgomery, Butler, and Brown counties have a higher rate.
Statewide, the number of drug overdose deaths increased by 32 percent, going from 3,050 in 2015 to 4,050 in 2016.
While the number of heroin-related overdose deaths in Ohio remained somewhat steady, the number of fentanyl-related overdose deaths more than doubled from 2015 to 2016. There were 1,155 overdose deaths in Ohio from fentanyl and related drugs in 2015, and that number increased to 2,357 deaths in 2016.
“We have a long way to go and would like to see these numbers continue to decline, but this is an encouraging start,” said Health Commissioner Julianne Nesbit. “The Opiate Task Force has been hard at work addressing the drug epidemic, and this is a small accomplishment for all of the work the members have done.”
“It is a sad reality, but without the use of naloxone, these numbers could be much higher,” said Nesbit. Clermont County Public Health, along with the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, have been instrumental in making naloxone (better known by its brand name Narcan) more available to citizens in the county as well as local law enforcement and EMS agencies.
For more information on the Clermont County Opiate Task Force, visit its website at https://www.getcleannowclermont.org.
For the full report from the Ohio Department of Health, click here.
Clermont County Public Health (CCPH) is dedicated to the mission of striving to improve Clermont County by preventing disease, promoting health, and protecting the environment. For more information, visit http://www.ccphohio.org or call 513-732-7499.
BATAVIA, Ohio (July 14, 2017) – Clermont County Commissioners approved on July 12 the expansion of the Community Alternative Sentencing Center (CASC) to serve women. The CASC, which has been open since September 2015 under the management of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health Systems, provides an alternative to jail for misdemeanants who are convicted of drug- or alcohol-related crimes.
Since 2015, the CASC has served men. It provides various kinds of treatment and therapy, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT), cognitive behavioral therapy, sober recovery meetings, and work readiness classes. It is funded by Clermont County, and its current budget is $440,800.
Now, thanks to a grant from the federal 21st Century Cures Act, Clermont County will start admitting women to the CASC as of Sept. 1, said BCC President David Uible. “This will allow us to address a gap in our attempts to address this crisis. We have wanted to offer this treatment alternative to women, and the grant will allow us to do so.”
Under the Cures Act, $26 million was allocated to the State of Ohio to fight the opioid epidemic. Clermont County, as one of the top 15 counties in the state most affected by the crisis, was given priority in the grant process, according to Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health & Recovery Board (CCMHRB), who led the application for the grant.
CCMHRB is receiving approximately $418,000 in the first year of the grant and up to $700,000 in the second year, which is being provided to the County to fund the CASC program. By the second year, the county hopes to serve up to 25 women in the pod. Medication-assisted treatment will be emphasized, Scherra said.
“We were very pleased to be awarded funding to expand CASC to women, which will allow a greater access to needed services and a better chance for recovery,” Scherra said.
The CASC, which operates in a wing of the County Jail, will operate its women’s pod completely separated from the men’s. The new staff will include an admissions coordinator, three counselors, three aides, a part-time employment specialist, and a recovery coach. It will also include dedicated hours from a physician and nurse.
The Community Alternative Sentencing Center – the only one in the State of Ohio – is a voluntary program. Municipal Court judges refer misdemeanants to the CASC if they think they will be good candidates for treatment as opposed to incarceration. Since it began operating under the management of Greater Cincinnati Behavioral Health, the CASC has admitted 378 men. Of those 307 have successfully completed the program, with many transitioning into continued services and supports in the community.
BATAVIA, Ohio (July 13, 2017) – The Clermont County Board of County Commissioners declared at their July 12 Session that opiate abuse, addiction, morbidity and mortality has created a serious public health and safety crisis in Clermont County, and is a public nuisance. The County is seeking damages from wholesale pharmaceutical distributors who control the distribution of controlled substances in this region, and are required to report suspicious orders of opiate-based drugs to federal and state authorities.
The Board of Commissioners, the Prosecuting Attorney, and the Court of Common Pleas are jointly retaining the law firm of Greene, Ketchum, Farrell, Bailey & Tweel of Huntington, West Virginia, as special counsel to pursue remedies against the distributors.
“As a County, we have spent millions of dollars over the last several years addressing this crisis,” said Commissioner David Uible, President of the BCC. “Our law enforcement and courts are greatly taxed by this. Our social service agencies such as Children’s Protective Services are busier than ever as families are being split apart. There is virtually no part of county government that has not been impacted by this.
“But even more than that, there is no neighborhood in Clermont County that has not been affected by this crisis. And our public funds are not sufficient to address this crisis.”
Clermont County has one of the worse per-capita rates for opiate abuse in Ohio. The number of residents who are addicted to prescription pain pills and heroin in county has risen over 400% since 2007. In the last decade, the county’s rate of overdose has jumped more than 2000%.
In 2016, the Coroner’s Office determined that 83 people died of accidental overdoses, a decline compared to the 2015 number of 94. So far this year, 21 deaths are attributed to accidental overdoses, with many cases pending.
Distributors are required under both federal and state law to report any suspicious controlled substance orders by pharmacies — which could include large and frequent orders – to the relevant authorities, including the Drug Enforcement Agency and the Ohio Board of Pharmacy. The largest drug distributors in the United States are Cardinal Health, McKesson Corp., and Amerisource Bergen. They command 85% of the market, according to Greene, Ketchum.
“In Clermont County, we began the Opiate Task Force several years ago to address this epidemic in a collaborative fashion,” said Commissioner Ed Humphrey. “We have been pro-active in meeting this crisis. For example, we began an alternative to jail called the Community Alternative Treatment Center that focuses on treatment. The CASC is helping, but it’s not inexpensive to fund.
“We are seeking these damages because the County does not have the resources to meet this crisis effectively. Any damages recovered would be used to reimburse the county for its various expenditures related to the opiate crisis. We would also put funds toward effective prevention and education measures. We would put more money into law enforcement, the justice system, and treatment and recovery. We have many needs in the county, and this would help us meet those needs.”
Added Commissioner David Painter: “This is a big step for the County. Our County has been devastated by the opiate epidemic. The taxpayers are paying for this crisis, but they didn’t create this crisis. These distributors had the responsibility to monitor and report any suspicious distribution of prescription opiates in Clermont County. They failed to do that. Now, they must be held accountable.”
Greene, Ketchum is a personal injury firm and is being hired on a contingency fee basis. If there is no recovery of funds, there is no fee nor any reimbursement of litigation expenses.
BATAVIA, Ohio (April 4, 2017) – March 23, 2017, was a momentous day for Charles and Michele Wehby.
That day, the Amelia couple officially graduated from Clermont County’s Family Dependency Treatment Court. Juvenile Court Judge James Shriver, who runs the Treatment Court, praised the couple’s progress over the year-and-a-half they spent in his court, working their sobriety and eventually reclaiming custody of their three children.
It has not been an easy journey.
Charles, 33, and Michele, 28, married in 2007. Charles began using heroin when he was 19, and was still in active addiction when he got married. Michele, who had used pills and smoked marijuana, eventually followed her husband into heroin use. “Our marriage was built on drugs and alcohol,” Charles said. “I didn’t want to grow up. I wanted to goof off, drink, and do drugs.”
“This was something I never had imagined,” Michele said. “I quickly became the person I had looked down upon. I was losing my home and losing my children.”
In and our of rehab
Charles and Michele were in and out of jail and rehab through the years, but nothing stuck. And then, in 2013, after an emergency hearing, Clermont County Children’s Protective Services removed their children: Richard Sahlin, Alexis and Keira Wehby. “Losing our kids was the main thing that kept me grounded,” Michele said. Despite the cycle of rehab and relapse, “Somewhere in our minds, our kids were always there.”
In July 2015, desperate to regain their children, Charles and Michele entered Judge Shriver’s Treatment Court, a special docket court that is open to parents who have lost custody of their children and are willing to go through a rigorous program to reunite their families. The Wehbys are the second couple that have successfully completed the program.
One thing made a difference this time, they said: Accountability. Now, they were accountable to Judge Shriver and his program administrator, Angela Livesay, as they worked through the program.
The Family Dependency Treatment Court requires weekly appearances before Judge Shriver, as well as frequent drug screens. Parents must submit weekly letters detailing their activities. Charles and Michele attend frequent AA meetings and have also gone through marital and family counseling. Both are receiving Medication Assisted Treatment to help relieve cravings for opiates.
“We needed the accountability,” Charles said. “We weren’t living right.”
“It’s the best thing that ever happened to us,” Michele added.
On Aug. 9, 2016, their children were returned to them. “It was Richard and Keira’s birthday,” Michelle remembers. “It was the best birthday present.”
Church has helped
Their church, Vineyard Cincinnati Church at Eastgate, has been instrumental in their recovery, they said. “We’ve gotten humongous support from them,” Michele said. “We had to change everything – people we talked to, music we listened to. We listen to K-Love now!”
Today, both Charles and Michele work. Their children attend West Clermont schools.
For Richard, now 11, having his family back together means the world. He could not stop smiling at the graduation ceremony. “It’s awesome, being back with Mom and Dad,” he said. “I remember the day we got taken away. Mom was blowing kisses at us. We’re all now a family. We can enjoy each other.”
“It was harder on our kids than on us,” Charles said. “I will always feel guilty about that. But I can use that guilt in a positive way.”
“There’s always hope,” he added. “If you had told me four years ago we’d be where we are today, I would have called you a liar. It blows my mind.”
“The accountability saved my life,” Michele said. “Now we get to watch our kids grow up.”
For more information on the Family Dependency Treatment Court, contact Angela Livesay at 513.732.7685 or email her firstname.lastname@example.org.
CINCINNATI, Ohio (Jan. 23, 2017) ─ The Funders’ Response to the Heroin Epidemic (FRHE) announced today they have awarded grants to the communities of Colerain Township and Clermont County to support their efforts to solve the heroin epidemic. Each will receive $100,000 over a three-year period to develop and implement Quick Response Teams (QRT) – a model of “deflection” where law enforcement, first responders, and treatment professionals work together to provide a collaborative response to opioid users and their families following an overdose. The goal is to connect people to treatment and prevent future overdoses.
FRHE is a collaboration of private funders dedicated to ending the Greater Cincinnati region’s opiate and heroin epidemic and is an operating program of InterAct for Change. FRHE works to support and strengthen local communities in their response to opioid misuse and addiction through funding and strategic support.
QRT capitalizes on the “recovery window” – a period shortly following an opioid overdose when people who are addicted are open to intervention. Members of the QRT (law enforcement, EMS, and a treatment specialist) visit the home of a person who recently overdosed and offer support services to the individual and his families. QRT then continues to follow up over time, encouraging him to seek treatment, and works to remove barriers and obstacles that may come up as he/she engages in the treatment system. Individuals and their families rely on the QRT for emotional support, information, coaching, encouragement, and links to resources.
“FRHE is focused on fueling community efforts to end the heroin epidemic by expanding and investing in effective practices,” said Kelly Firesheets, Senior Program Officer of Interact for Health and representative of FRHE. “By reaching heroin users when they are most open to treatment, QRTs gives us the best chance to connect them to treatment, with the hope of long-term recovery.”
FRHE will fund the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board (MHRB) to implement a QRT that will intervene with Clermont County residents who have survived an overdose at one of two locations: Union Township or Mercy Hospital Clermont.
“In Clermont County, increased naloxone distribution and heightened awareness mean that more people are surviving opioid overdose,” said Dr. Lee Ann Watson, Associate Director of the MHRB, and Co-Chair of the County’s Opiate Task Force. “The QRT will partner first responders with treatment professionals who can connect people to needed substance use disorder treatment at a time they are most actively seeking it.”
The Clermont County QRT will receive consultation from the Hamilton County QRT as it sets up operations. It will primarily be a partnership between Union Township Fire Department and the Clermont Recovery Center. The Clermont County QRT will include several members:
Overdose survivors will either be identified by the Mercy Clermont emergency department, or by Union Township dispatch information. Members of QRT will follow up with overdose survivors within five working days, reaching an estimated 150 individuals per year.
In Colerain Township, FRHE will provide funding to the Addiction Services Council to add a Peer Engagement Specialist to the existing QRT. A Peer Engagement Specialist is a person in recovery from addiction who receives a professional certification that allows him/her to support people with addictions and their families.
“The Quick Response Team represents the type of collaboration our communities need to end this epidemic, said Dan Malloy, safety service director of Colerain Township. “The addition of a peer engagement specialist provides the team with the unique perspective and connection needed to reach those battling addiction, with the goal being successful recovery.”
The QRT Peer Engagement Specialist will provide services in the community that allows QRT to provide ongoing support to an estimated 50 people in recovery and their families, including:
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Funders’ Response to the Heroin Epidemic (FRHE) is a collaboration of private funders dedicated to ending the Greater Cincinnati region’s opioid and heroin epidemic. FRHE provides financial resources and strategic support strengthen local communities’ response to opioid misuse and addiction. FRHE is operated by InterAct for Change, a nonprofit subsidiary of Interact for Health. For more information on the FRHE visit www.interactforchange.org.
BATAVIA, Ohio (Oct. 27, 2016) – Members of the Clermont County Opiate Task Force (OTF) were eager to share their thoughts with U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup at their Oct. 13 monthly meeting, where Wenstrup was a guest.
Dr. Joe Kahn gave a presentation on carfentanil, the substance being found in heroin locally and throughout Ohio that has resulted in more overdose deaths in the region.
Congressman Wenstrup gave a brief summary of his thoughts on the heroin epidemic from his conversations with constituents and discussed the status of federal activity. He asked Task Force members to share their issues and concerns, as well as some of the local work being done to address the epidemic in Clermont County.
Many OTF members brought up issues such as the supply and cost of naloxone, which is negatively impacting fire/EMS and township budgets, the need for more treatment resources, and the frustrations of family members dealing with addiction for the first time. Several members said that greater emphasis needed to be placed on prevention.
There was discussion of the the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act that passed Congress and was signed by President Obama in July, and the grant funding that will be made available to local communities and states through it. Members also shared some of the positive things being done collaboratively in the county.
BATAVIA, Ohio (July 27, 2016) – Since April, the Clermont County Sheriff’s Office has conducted six “directed patrols” – coordinated efforts with other police agencies in the county targeted at those driving while under the influence of drugs. To date, the patrols have made 116 traffic stops, leading to:
“We were getting complaints from citizens driving to work in the morning, saying that they were seeing people weave on the road, or going left of center again and again. They would say, ‘it’s obvious these people are on drugs,’” said Chief Deputy Steve Leahy. “This is the time of day when addicts are waking up, getting together with other users, and then going out to buy drugs. Then a couple of hours later, you’d see them come back – often after using.”
Greater Cincinnati has experienced a number of accidents in the last couple of years attributed to drugged drivers, several of which have had fatalities. “Our first priority is to keep people safe,” Leahy said.
The Sheriff’s Office decided a new tactic – directed patrols – was needed.
How they work
The directed patrols, which are coordinated by Capt. Jeffrey Sellars, consist of traffic, canine, narcotics and investigation units. The Sheriff’s Office reaches out to other local law enforcement to get input on problem areas, Leahy said, including Pierce and Union townships, and New Richmond.
“There is no rhyme or reason to what day we pick to go out on patrol,” said Leahy, stressing that doing the patrols on a surprise basis is key to their success. “We’ve had great success in the first couple of hours, during these patrols,” he said, “but then word goes out, and the users are letting other people know to go different routes.”
Since heroin users are more apt to use the drug immediately, officers have not often found heroin in the cars that they stop. The officers will stop cars that are weaving or going left of center; they will run a tag to see if it has expired, or look for other indications that give them probable cause to pull the driver over, said Leahy.
The routes patrolled are ones that users are using to get their drugs – either south to Northern Kentucky or west to Cincinnati, Leahy said.
These directed patrols are just one method the Sheriff’s Office is using to combat the increased use of heroin and other opioids in Clermont County, he said. The office has also added manpower to Jackson, Stonelick and Wayne townships, where Leahy and his team identified crime “hot spots” in January as they reviewed 2015 trends. “We added an additional deputy during the day shift,” he said. “Our thinking was that if they see more deputies, they may be less likely to commit crimes.”
Within four months, property crimes – the crimes most likely to be committed by addicts and which include breaking and entering, burglary and theft – had dropped more than 50%, from 506 for the same period in 2015 to 194 in 2016.
“We’ll take another look at the numbers in August,” Leahy said.
Success with Narcan
Law enforcement is also on the front line when it comes to responding to overdose calls. Since the last quarter of 2014, the Sheriff’s Office has administered Narcan, a drug that reverses the effects of an overdose, 52 times. Of those, officers were able to save 46 lives.
This beefed-up law enforcement is just one of the many ways Clermont County is addressing its problems with heroin and other opioid addictions. Both Leahy and Sellars are members of the county’s Opiate Task Force, a collaborative that brings together stakeholders from law enforcement, the courts, mental health, recovery and treatment, family, business, and local government to address the issue.
“Law enforcement by itself is not going to change things,” said Leahy. “Incarceration alone is not going to solve the problem.”
Contact: Chief Deputy Steve Leahy, email@example.com; 513.732.7672
Overdose deaths climb in 2015
Get rid of prescription drugs at drop boxes
Family reunification is focus of panel at Opiate Conference
Clermont County publishes Substance Abuse Recovery Guide
BATAVIA, Ohio (June 29, 2016) – Unintentional poisoning deaths – all related to drug overdoses – continued to climb in Clermont County, from 68 in 2014 to 94 in 2015. Of those, fentanyl, an extremely potent opioid, was present in 51 of the overdoses in 2015, compared to 21 in 2014.
Michelle Lydenberg, Injury Prevention Coordinator for Clermont County Public Health, analyzed 2013-2015 data from the Clermont County coroner, police reports, Clerk of Court records, and hospital reports for a recent presentation to the county’s Opiate Task Force.
“Fentanyl is coming into the country from labs outside the United States, primarily Mexico and China,” Lydenberg said. “It’s inexpensive and extremely potent, which is contributing to the increase of fentanyl-related deaths. Fentanyl is 25 to 50 times stronger than heroin, so even a small amount can cause an overdose.”
Heroin was present in 32% of the deaths in 2015, and prescription opioids, including fentanyl, were present in 32%. The next most common drugs were sedatives such as Xanax and Valium, at 12%.
Among the trends:
• Women make up an increasing share of the deaths — 33% in 2015, compared to 25% in 2014.
• In 62 of the cases (66%), the victims had a criminal record, typically related to OVI (Operating a Vehicle While Impaired) or robbery/theft.
• Multiple drugs were present in more cases.
• In 53% of the cases, victims were not alone when they overdosed.
• Hepatitis C or liver disease was present in 12 cases, compared to none in 2013
There would probably have been more deaths, Lydenberg noted, if not for the continued use of naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, by law enforcement and even family members. Naloxone reverses the effect of an overdose. The Clermont County Sheriff’s Office reports that it saved 27 lives in 2015 through the use of Narcan. The Goshen Police Department reported two successful reverses in 2015.
Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board, noted that their levy increase, passed by voters in November 2015, will allow for additional naloxone to be purchased and an increase in treatment and prevention services, to continue efforts to reduce the number of overdoses and help more individuals achieve recovery.
“National statistics indicate that the opiate epidemic shows no signs of diminishing,” added Scherra, “but here in Clermont we are working collaboratively across all sectors to reduce deaths, prevent young people from using, and provide access to treatment to deal with the addiction.”
The Clermont County Opiate Task Force, comprised of members from law enforcement, treatment, government, the courts, business, healthcare, and the community and families, began in 2013 to address the urgent issues the county faced as heroin and opioid abuse worsened. Since then, it has undertaken educational and outreach programs, supported grants to supply Narcan to local law enforcement agencies, advocated for medication-assisted treatment of addicts, and has supported innovative approaches to dealing with this issue.
(Photo: Opiate Task Force, May 2015)
Contact: Michelle Lydenberg, Clermont Public Health, firstname.lastname@example.org; 513.735.8408.)
BATAVIA, Ohio (March 23, 2016) – The Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board has published a Substance Abuse Recovery Guide for residents of the county.
The guide offers a comprehensive list of detox and treatment centers in Ohio and Kentucky; faith-based treatment organizations; Narcotics Anonymous and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, as well as tips on overdose prevention and how to help loved ones with addiction.
The guide was published in response to the opiate and heroin epidemic that has worsened in Clermont County. Dr. Brian Treon, Clermont County Coroner, reported that in 2014, 68 deaths were caused by drug overdoses, and of those, 36 were attributed to heroin. Karen Scherra, Executive Director of the Clermont County, Mental Health and Recovery Board, explained the need for the Resource Guide. “Our office receives multiple calls each day from people looking for treatment services for themselves or a loved one to deal with their heroin addiction,” she said, “and having a resource that they can easily access for use now and in the future is a major asset.”
The resource guide was developed by a nursing student at UC Clermont, Connie Shively, as her capstone project.
Clermont County Public Health and Clermont County Mental Health and Recovery Board have a QR code, available on business cards that will allow people access to the guide through their smart phones.
For paper copies of the guide, or the QR code card, contact Michelle Lydenberg, Injury Prevention Coordinator, at email@example.com.