Lee County sees uptick in overdose deaths

Lee County Health Center
Lee County Health Center(WYMT)
Published: Mar. 28, 2022 at 4:00 PM EDT
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LEE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - Since the beginning of the pandemic, Lee County has seen an increase in overdose deaths.

In March 2022 alone, health officials said there were 26 total cases in the area, seven of which led to deaths.

“If anybody knows anybody that is struggling with addiction, reach out to them,” Harm Reduction Program Coordinator JoAnn Vanzant said. “Show that you care, right now is when we need to be showing kindness and love.”

Many believe the cause of the uptick in deaths is isolation caused by the pandemic and new fentanyl-laced drugs that have been introduced to the region.

“So, when individuals start to use, they may not know the strength of what they’re using,” Public Health Director Scott Lockard said. “Unfortunately, it results in a very bad effect.”

Lockard said he and other health officials are combatting the issue with a facility called “The Hub.”

“We’re trying to provide a one stop shop for individuals with substance use disorder,” said Lockard. “We have peer counseling here, we have linkage to resources and we have linkage to treatment. So far, we have actually transported over 20 individuals to treatment.”

It is a situation county EMS workers said has been draining resources.

“We got four cases of nasal Narcan in,” Lee County EMS Deputy Director Patricia Cole said. “Each box contains two doses, which are four milligrams each. We’re down to one case.”

Cole said they are resources that are barely effective as it is.

“We have to have more Narcan,” she said. “It’s taking upwards of 24 to 30 milligrams per patient to even get them breathing.”

Health officials said they are trying to stay positive during this difficult time.

“Everybody has something that they can bring to the table to help the situation,” Vanzant said. “It’s not only the person that’s in addiction’s problem, it’s the community.”

Lockard said the best way you can help is to reach out to those affected by addiction and learn how to administer Narcan.

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