Drugs are killing so many people in Ohio that cold-storage trailers are being used as morgues

kavika
By:  @kavika, 5 months ago
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Drugs are killing so many people in Ohio that cold-storage trailers are being used as morgues


11 / 25




The Washington Post


Kristine Phillips3 hrs ago




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© John Moore/Getty Images

By about 3 p.m. Friday, a county morgue in east Ohio was already full — and more bodies were expected.

Rick Walters, an investigator for the Stark County coroner's office, had just left for two death scenes: a suicide and an overdose.

From the road, he called the director of the Ohio Emergency Management Agency to ask for help. He needed more space, he explained — specifically, a cold-storage trailer to act as an overflow morgue.

As with much of the United States, Ohio is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic that shows no signs of abating.

The Friday afternoon request for a cold-storage trailer highlights the epidemic ravaging the state.

Drug overdoses have led to a spike in the number of bodies coming to the Stark County morgue — an increase of about 20 percent in the last year. The additional bodies led to the need for more space, so the coroner's office borrowed a trailer from the state until it gets caught up.

“I've been involved in public safety for 40 some years; I remember the drug problem we had in the late ’60s and early ’70s when I joined the department,” Walters said. “The fatality numbers are nothing even close to this.”

Last year, the coroner's office processed about 500 deaths, more than 100 of which were drug-related, Walters said.

Statewide, the numbers are staggering.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, the number of opioid-related deaths skyrocketed from 296 in 2003 to 2,590 in 2015 — a 775 percent jump over a 13-year period. These numbers include deaths involving prescription opioids, heroin and fentanyl, which is similar to morphine but is 50 to 100 times more potent.

Behind the bleak statistics are haunting scenes of overdose victims.

Several times in recent months, Ohio has been the setting for such shocking spectacles.

In September, authorities in the town of East Liverpool stopped a car and found a man and a woman barely conscious in the front seats. The woman’s 4-year-old grandson sat in the back seat.

A disturbing photo of the scene — the driver with his head tilted back, the woman slumped across the passenger seat, and the boy staring at what’s in front of him — spread like wildfire.

Weeks later, in northeast Ohio, a recovering addict delivered some devastating news to his 8-year-old son.

“Mommy died last night,” Brenden Clark said. “Okay?”

“What do you mean? My mom?” his son said.

“Yes,” Clark said.

“How!” the boy cried out.

“From drugs,” Clark said.

Clark posted video of the heart-wrenching discussion on Facebook, where it has been viewed more than 35 million times.

In Stark County, where the population had outgrown the morgue, the drug problem has been especially taxing, Walters said.

The morgue can house only 12 bodies at a time. That's small for a county with a population of more than 375,000, Walters said.

The drug epidemic also has caused the county to spend roughly $75,000 a year in toxicology tests alone, Walters said. In some months, the county racks up $10,000 in toxicology bills.

“We're just spending all kinds of money on lab work because there's so many different drugs,” he said.

Walters said the cold-storage trailer arrived late Friday night in Canton, Ohio, where the coroner's office is located. Designed for use at disaster scenes or mass-fatality illnesses, it is loaded with trays about 20 inches wide and 7 feet long and can hold 18 bodies.

 


 

 

Since calling the state to request the trailer, the coroner's office has seen at least six more deaths, two of which are possibly drug-related, Walters said.

Other counties in the state have also had to find additional space after their morgues reached capacity.

Summit County in northeastern Ohio borrowed mobile storage trailers from the state last year. Gary Guenther, chief investigator for the Summit County medical examiner's office, said the number of deaths began to increase on July 4, with most cases involving drugs laced with carfentanil, an elephant tranquilizer 10,000 times more powerful than morphine.

Around the same time last year, Cincinnati saw an unprecedented number of heroin overdoses: 174 in six days.

The culprit was also carfentanil mixed with heroin, The Washington Post's Katie Mettler reported. The Hamilton County coroner's office in Cincinnati saw a 100-day backlog of DNA testing for police drug investigations, the Associated Press reported.

Kent Harsbarger, the coroner in Ohio's Montgomery County, said earlier this year that he was considering renting space at funeral homes and hospitals because the county didn't have enough space in its morgue, even after expanding in 2016, WDTN reported.

About 75 percent of deaths the coroner's office handles every month are drug-related, Harsbarger told the TV station, noting that Montgomery County saw 355 overdose deaths last year.

Walters, the Stark County coroner, said borrowing trailers is only a temporary solution.

“We need another facility or expand the facility,” he said. “We can't continue to rely on the state.”

Over the past few years, Ohio has had one of the highest rates of drug overdose in the country. It was among the top five states in 2015, along with West Virginia, New Hampshire, Kentucky and Rhode Island, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sarah Larimer contributed to this report.

 

 



 

 

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Kavika
link 03/17/17 12:29:44AM @kavika:

''A disturbing photo of the scene — the driver with his head tilted back, the woman slumped across the passenger seat, and the boy staring at what’s in front of him — spread like wildfire.''

I remember seeing that photo, it was devastating.

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Randy
link 03/17/17 12:35:13AM @randy:

I point my finger at two groups. The drug companies who push doctor to prescribe the legal drugs that lead to Heroin and the doctors who go along with them for the profit and kickbacks they get from the drug companies to do it. Those that die are the victims.

Though whenever I have surgery I always ask my doctor if the pain reliever they give me is addictive and if it is I always make them promise to cut me off before I become dependent. You have to take some responsibility for yourself. Of course I also have a real bitch of a retired RN for a wife who makes sure I don't get into anything else. Happy

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Kavika
link 03/17/17 12:37:53AM @kavika:

I have to agree with that Randy....I find it impossible to wrap my head around the photo of the two of them totally stoned out with their child in the back seat.

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Dowser
link 03/18/17 08:37:02PM @dowser:

I read it as their grandchild, Kav...  Maybe I mis read-- but somehow, that so goes against the grain of what I think grandparents should do, it's even more shocking!

 

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Buzz of the Orient
link 03/17/17 12:40:50AM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Why? Why is this happening? If it's been increasing over the years to this extent it can't be blamed on Trump's election.

Since posting this comment I saw and read Randy's comment on why, but surely that's not the only reason.

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Kavika
link 03/17/17 12:44:19AM @kavika:

Buzz, no one is blaming it on Trump. This is an problem that has been growing for years. We are now at a crisis stage.

What is the answer, I don't know Buzz, but one thing that I do know is that the U.S. has become a ''drugged'' nation.

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Randy
link 03/17/17 12:51:28AM @randy:

I don't blame Trump. It has been happening for far too long for that.

I do have to point out however that the proposed GOP healthcare plan cuts out all funding for rehabilitation, which I blame on Paul Ryan, who is simply a heartless bastard. At this point in this terrible addiction spike that does not seem to be a wise thing to do.

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Aeonpax
link 03/17/17 02:16:02AM @aeonpax:

"Paul Ryan, who is simply a heartless bastard"

As are the rest of the conservative, religious right.

 

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Randy
link 03/17/17 02:34:59AM @randy:

And it shows with their polices and what they support. Paul Ryan was on the radio last week actually bragging about how many people were going to be thrown off from Medicaid and how eventually the program was going to be dead. He didn't mention that millions of disabled people, including hundreds of thousands of disabled veterans depend on it. Instead he was actually chuckling and chortling about how, if his healthcare bill passed, that it would be the first bill that ever "killed" an entitlement program. He actually was gleeful. He didn't care about the millions of people who could not possibly work because of their disability and would never be able to get insurance and who would end up on the street to beg and die. He simply does not care.

To him if you can not afford insurance and a place to live, then somehow it is your fault. It is not the fault of bad circumstances or a disability or disease or poverty or whatever. It is your personal fault that you did not attain enough wealth to be able to pay for good housing and high priced good health care on your own. And if you can't meet those two standards, then you are unworthy of human compassion. That you are a victim of some sort of twisted Darwinian theory and that you have been selected by nature to not survive. Your destiny is to die.

The saddest and sickest thing about people like Paul Ryan and Donald Trump and their richer supporters is that this is how they actually, in their human-less twisted minds, think. That applies to some of their supporters here on NT. They foolishly believe that, if they follow Trump and Ryan, that somehow they will magically become rich and powerful like them. That they are really joining some sort of movement. When the "movement" is joke being played on them by the upper class rich to get them to follow them. It is a con and they fall for it like little children. When the truth is that they are only bent over on their hands and knees so Trump and Ryan and the others of their ilk can walk on their backs as the laugh at what stupid assholes they are.

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Hal A. Lujah
link 03/18/17 09:13:25AM @hal-a-lujah:

And still, the real problem with US healthcare remains obvious yet ignored.  In the eyes of wealthy conservatives, to address costs in any meaningful way would be to denounce capitalism.

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No Fear
link 03/18/17 11:11:43PM @no-fear:

Nonsense.  THey are many ways to address the issues.  Too bad the left wing fukwads had to FUBAR the system and screw everyone over in the process.

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Buzz of the Orient
link 03/17/17 05:09:15AM @buzz-of-the-orient:

"Paul Ryan, who is simply a heartless bastard"

"As are the rest of the conservative, religious right."

That seems like somewhat of a generalization to me.

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Aeonpax
link 03/18/17 08:57:25AM @aeonpax:

That's the way I see it and that's the way it stays.

 

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deepwaterdon
link 03/18/17 09:59:33AM @deepwaterdon:

Aeonpax... Make that two thumbs up.

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No Fear
link 03/19/17 09:22:09AM @no-fear:

Interesting since the way you define heartless bastard makes most far left wingers extremely uncharitable fukwads.

 

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deepwaterdon
link 03/18/17 09:55:13AM @deepwaterdon:

Buzz...A little bit thinned skinned, this morning aren't you? Lighten up. As I see it you have no skin in the game here, about the drug epidemic in America, although you are welcome to comment, unless you cast a vote in America, do not criticize ANY Americans choice of who he voted for. Let me know when the next democratic election is held in China, I may have a few criticisms of the choices.

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Buzz of the Orient
link 03/18/17 07:48:53PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

I guess you feel that the First Amendment only applies to those who exercise their right to vote in America. I feel as a member of NT that I have the right to speak my mind on whatever I choose (other than the limitations of the CoC) and if Perrie feels I do not I will delete my membership. I cannot restrict your right to criticize Canada or China or Timbucktoo as far as I am concerned.

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Perrie Halpern R.A.
link 03/18/17 11:04:26PM @perrie-halpern:

Everyone and anyone who is a member here can have an opinion and express it here. Opinions are like....... well you know... everyone has one, as is entitled to it. 

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Buzz of the Orient
link 03/18/17 11:15:49PM @buzz-of-the-orient:

Thanks Perrie, 

I don't restrict anyone from criticizing Canada or China or even fair criticism of Israel (although it's rarely fair) although I will maintain the right to respond to them. DeepWaterDon thinks it's okay to shut members up and prevent them from "Speaking Their Mind". 

I used to think DD was an okay guy. My opinion on that has unfortunately been changed.

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Cerenkov
link 03/18/17 12:38:14PM @cerenkov:

No, Buzz, that's the liberal version of tolerance.

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Cerenkov
link 03/18/17 11:19:06PM @cerenkov:

"As are the rest of the conservative, religious right."

And the liberal left are violent anarchists who steal from productive citizens. Broad brushing can be fun!

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Aeonpax
link 03/19/17 08:36:21AM @aeonpax:

I'll admit, the way I was "generalizing" was in reality, not 100% accurate.  I could have said,; ""most", "a large majority", "a large percentage" or whatever, to indicate that not ALL of the conservative religious right are "heartless bastards" but I deliberately didn't. However, it depends on how one defines "heartless bastards."   Euphemistically, in informal communications, I can defend that position, not as a measured certitude but as a 'general impression' of how the religious right operates.

I will not argue that the statement isn't subjective, but it is an accurate enough general description of them.

 

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Buzz of the Orient
link 03/21/17 02:03:39AM @buzz-of-the-orient:

"I'll admit, the way I was "generalizing" was in reality, not 100% accurate."

Which is the point I made, although I was censured for having done so, but then you, as an American voter, have DD's permission to "speak your mind".

Although, a greater disappointment is that Randy and Kavika thumbed up his censuring me.

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Aeonpax
link 03/19/17 08:37:11AM @aeonpax:

I'll admit, the way I was "generalizing" was in reality, not 100% accurate.  I could have said,; ""most", "a large majority", "a large percentage" or whatever, to indicate that not ALL of the conservative religious right are "heartless bastards" but I deliberately didn't. However, it depends on how one defines "heartless bastards."   Euphemistically, in informal communications, I can defend that position, not as a measured certitude but as a 'general impression' of how the religious right operates.

I will not argue that the statement isn't subjective, but it is an accurate enough general description of them.

 

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sixpick
link 03/18/17 11:39:36PM @sixpick:

Ohio Opiod Overdoses.JPG

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Hal A. Lujah
link 03/19/17 08:53:31AM @hal-a-lujah:

That chart tends to support the notion that people got hooked on widely prescribed oxy in 2010, and over the next few years overdosed on the street heroin that they had to rely on to serve their addiction.

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No Fear
link 03/19/17 09:33:08AM @no-fear:

Natural selection.

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