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00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980000Day after day, week after week, the headlines in Northeast Ohio and across much of the country contain news of tragic loss: lives lost to opioids. It’s a problem that knows no bounds: geography, race, gender, level of education or income.The problem took on new urgency this summer as the powerful elephant sedative, Carfentanil, began hitting the streets. First responders armed with their only weapon, the overdose antidote Naloxone, have struggled to keep up with what’s become an overwhelming problem. It’s an issue that’s straining public and social resources. What has become clear is that business as usual is not going to fix the problem.WKSU news has been covering the unfolding crisis. Tuesdays during Morning Edition, the WKSU news team digs even deeper. WKSU reporters will examine what’s led us here and what might be done to turn the tide. Support for Opioids: Turning the Tide in the Crisis comes from Wayne Savings Community Bank, Kent State University Office of Continuing and Distance Education, Hometown Grocery Delivery, Mercy Medical Center, AxessPointe Community Health Center, Community Support Services, Inc., Medina County District Library and Hudson Community First.00000174-c556-d691-a376-cdd69e980001

Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Gets Extra Funding to Help Deal with the Opioid Crisis

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DIMITRIS KALOGEROPOYLOS
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FLICKR
Cuyahoga's Medical Examiners office is getting extra funding to keep up with the opioid epidemic

Cuyahoga County Council has approved an additional $200,000 for this year’s medical examiners budget to deal with the rising number of fatal opioid overdoses.

Last year a record 610 people died of drug overdoses in Cuyahoga County, and so far this year, the number is on pace to be 27 percent higher. Medical examiner’s office administrator Hugh Shannon says there are seven pathologists available to do autopsies now. One pathology fellow will earn certification in June with two more fellows coming on this summer, but he says that is still too few to do the growing job.

“The need at the moment is that doctors can only do so many cases in a single year. And we will use that additional funding to bring in some contract doctors to ease the caseload burden on our staff.”

Shannon says they plan to hire two or three additional pathologists through the end of the year, and if that’s not enough they may go back to the county for additional funding. The medical examiner’s office could lose accreditation if its doctors remain over-burdened.