The Hamilton County Heroin Coalition has ten new ideas for decreasing the drug epidemic this year and at the top of the list is an Engagement Center run by Talbert House in Corryville. It will be the first stop for those who are addicted.
The Coalition detailed the ideas at a Tuesday news conference. Beginning in March the Talbert triage facility will assess the condition of addicted victims, decide what medication they need and where they should be treated, according to Talbert House President Neil Tilow.
He says, "This is the biggest problem in the community right now. If you ask any family member what's the biggest challenge its, 'I don't know where to go. I don't know what to do. I have this family member I love and care about and I don't know where to go next.'"
Tilow is in the process of hiring 18 staffers to treat 1,500 addicted people this year. Patients would get to Talbert House a variety of ways depending on their condition. Hospitals could send them by ambulance. Quick Response Teams (QRTs)/police would bring them by cruiser, or they could arrive by Uber or another car service.
The Engagement Center idea, expansion of QRTs, pre-arrest diversion, access to 7 day a week treatment, and more treatment beds at the jail comes as the county tries to find new ways to deal with the problem.
New data from January through October 2017 shows the extent of the heroin epidemic in Hamilton County and the number of overdose deaths will likely surpass 2016's total.
There is one bright point. It does appear there were fewer overdose emergency room visits last month when compared to January 2017.
Fentanyl numbers continue to be high. The coalition reports police confiscated 263 grams last year and the drug caused 131,645 overdoses.
And there's another problem. The number of HIV cases blamed on needle-sharing is increasing. The coalition is meeting with the CDC weekly to determine if there is a cluster. Northern Kentucky health officials called for more exchange programs last month.
According to Hamilton County Commissioner and Coalition Chair Denise Driehaus, "We know we are in a battle. We know we're ground zero. What we also know is there is reason for hope. Because some of the work we are doing is making a difference. We are impacting lives. We are impacting families."