Huron County gets proactive with heroin advisories

NORWALK, Ohio (13abc Action News) - With the heroin epidemic not going away anytime soon, one community is going proactive. It’s an effort to warn people about heroin problems before they get out of hand.

It's a warning not only to addicts but also to their family members. Trying to find anyway to reach them, trying to save more lives.

Fisher-Titus medical center in Norwalk is like so many medical centers in our community seeing people come in everyday with overdoses. The hope is that with the new advisory and alert program that more families can be aware what's in the community so their family members don't have to go to an emergency room.

When the Fisher-Titus emergency room or any Huron county hospital sees an overdose increase and they appear to be people with no connection to each other, an advisory goes out to the other two county emergency room warning about a potentially potent version of heroin or fentenyl.

"When you have an alert you have a better sense of what's happening and if you have a series of fires that kept getting bigger and bigger and then you have infernos. You want to know those before you get to the large inferno," said Dr. Shankar Kurra, Senior Vice President of Medical Affairs at Fisher-Titus.

Health officials may also alert the general public. Alerting them to a dangerous batch or an increase in overdoes. It's a message aimed at family members because more than likely the addict or user won't listen.

"That individual is still going to use because they're addicted, they don't have an option. This is to notify a loved one that they should not allow that individual use the product by themselves," said Tim Hollinger, Huron County Health Commissioner.

"Helping the families of these individuals. Sometimes families accompany them and they look lost and they look hopeless," said Teri Day, RN, Emergency Department Manager at Fisher-Titus.

"People who don't understand addiction believe we're enabling. Whereas people who do understand addiction or have a loved one that is addicted, i think appreciate it," said Hollinger.

Hollinger says this program is all about harm reduction and trying to give people a second chance at life.

"This is not an epidemic anymore. It's bigger than that. Think of it as a fire that's out of control and it's going to affect two generations down," said Dr. Kurra.