Central Ky. coroner facing challenges with rise in overdose deaths

Madison Co. coroner describes challenges he faces with overdose deaths
Published: Jun. 3, 2022 at 11:07 PM EDT
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MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - The CDC’s latest data shows more than 2,300 Kentuckians died from drug overdoses in 2021.

That makes for a thirteen and a half percent increase from deaths in 2020.

Seventy-five people died in Madison County in 2021 from drug overdoses, up from 59 the year prior.

Jimmy Cornelison, the Madison County coroner, said their office has had to knock on the doors of families to tell them they’ve lost loved ones.

“I’ve done a family where I did three children in that same family. Three times I hugged that mother, three times,” Cornelison said.

Cornelison said those numbers don’t even show the full scale of the problem in Madison County because some hospital transports don’t even get counted in those records

“If you die in the ER you’re still mine. But we have so many that go to intensive care. Who eventually die,” Cornelison said.

Cornelison said one key problem is that they have the largest stretch of I-75 in the Commonwealth.

“So you can hop on hop off. Stop in Richmond sell your goods, meet somebody and be gone in 10 minutes,” Cornelison said.

While he can’t see a way out of this worsening situation, Cornelison says we can’t give up on those people who are dealing with a drug problem.

“We have to invest in these folks. Number one invest in keeping them clean. Find them something to do get them a job,” Cornelison said.

An investment that Addiction Recovery Care centers are eager to make.

“We will meet people exactly where they are and help them to walk through their recovery. Then they can stay with us for up to a year,” said Vanessa Keeton with Addiction Recovery Care.

To lift up those recovering from crisis to career, and to bring down the number of doors Cornelison has to knock on.

Cornelison noted that the experienced first responders they have and police officers carrying Narcan have helped curb the deaths.

He said his numbers would likely be 1/3 higher than they are if it weren’t for the pre-hospital care some people receive.

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