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Cuyahoga County Updates Heroin Initiative


Media contacts:
John O’Brien: (216) 698-2099 or jfobrien@cuyahogacounty.us,
Nicole Dailey Jones: (216) 263-4602, (216) 338-0863 or ndjones@cuyahogacounty.us

Recent Deaths Signal Heroin is County-wide, Nationwide Issue

CLEVELAND – Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald today gave an update on Cuyahoga County efforts to raise awareness and reduce overdose deaths related to heroin within the county, in partnership with law enforcement, the Board of Health, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and MetroHealth. Since 2007, heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County have more than tripled, and the county is on pace to see even more deaths this year. In the 2012, there were 161 heroin-related deaths in our county alone.

FitzGerald is leading county-wide law enforcement, medical and other partners in a focused initiative on heroin and heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County. The Cuyahoga County Board of Health has an operating Opiate Task Force and the heroin initiative is working in conjunction with the Opiate Task Force.

Partners at the press conference included Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson; MetroHealth Emergency Medicine Physician Dr. Papp; Cuyahoga County Sheriff Frank Bova; Cuyahoga County Board of Health; Chair, Opiate Task Force Vince Caraffi; Cleveland Police Chief McGrath and Lakewood Police Chief Malley.

“More young people are experimenting with opiates,” said FitzGerald. “The face of heroin use has changed dramatically: affecting all races, all socio-economic classes, both sexes and the inner and outer-ring suburbs - all have been tragically impacted. We cannot stand by. We will work, together, to stop this epidemic, and stop the loss of life and the loss of quality of life.”

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Gilson: “In ever increasing numbers, and with devastating effect, we have seen the loss of life; we have seen the impact this drug is having on our community. There are points of intervention that we can study, develop and use to target heroin use, and change its effect on individuals, and our community.”

Dr. Joan Papp, MetroHealth Emergency Medicine Physician: “The use of heroin is significantly increasing in the city of Cleveland and the surrounding suburbs. MetroHealth is creating new protocols to identify and treat heroin users so we can stem the tide of overdoses due to heroin.”

A new website hosted by Cuyahoga County where people can go to get information in one location went live today. Please see http://opiatecollaborative.cuyahogacounty.us/ for more information.