An Illinois county’s efforts to combat drug overdose crisis

BOND COUNTY, Ill. – Medical professionals, along with police, EMS, and the coroner’s office in Bond County, are making a plea not only for the community’s help but to raise awareness to help save lives.

This comes after two drug-related deaths occurred this past week within the county.

Bond County Coroner Tony Brooks said he’s made it his mission to spread as much awareness as possible when it comes to drug-related deaths in his small community.

He took his plea to Facebook in a post, part of which reads:

“I felt a need to address and/or remind our county residents of the use and effects of the heroin and fentanyl use. There are more cases of drug overdose that we do not hear about due to use of Narcan used by our Law Enforcement and EMS within our county. My hat is off to the responders for their quick response on these cases. However, there few that does not survive the overdose. That’s when it involves my office.

“A lot of these drugs that are used out here are brought in from St. Louis, Alton, and East St. Louis.”

Brooks said that one of the deaths was due to an overdose on Fentanyl, while the other death is pending toxicology reports.

“Fentanyl is creeping in and I’m hearing it’s being used a lot,” he said. “It’s 50 times more potent than heroin.”

Pharmaceutical fentanyl is a synthetic opioid pain reliever, approved for treating severe pain, typically advanced cancer pain.

It is sold through illegal drug markets for its heroin-like effect.

“Sometimes they are putting Fentanyl and heroine together whether they know it or do not know it,” Brooks said.

Local hospitals such as HSHS Holy Family Hospital are on heightened alert, saying they predict that overdose cases will escalate.

“We look at the opioid overdoes,” said Chris Wagner, head of emergency management at the hospital. “In Illinois, the rate is about 10.7 to a 100,000 and in Bond County, within the last month, it has been 10.8 to 19.9 per 100,000, so it’s been more.”

The hospital, along with first responders, law enforcement, and detox clinics are working together to combat what they call is a growing crisis.

“We can try something that is a non-control substance initially,” said Janetta Feen, director of the emergency department. “We can provide some kind of alternative therapy, whether it’s heat therapy, cold therapy.”

“We help people safely and comfortably get through the withdrawal from opioids and alcohol,” said Caroline Reynolds, service coordinator with New Vision. “We offer the hope that they can move on to outpatient treatment and inpatient rehab after getting through that sickness.”

If you or someone you know needs help, call 618-664-2292 or visit hshsholyfamily.org.