MOUNT VERNON — The fifth town hall on the opioid epidemic in Knox County began to take shape Tuesday, as Mayor Richard Mavis hosted a meeting of representatives who have been involved in the town halls held so far.
The fifth town hall will be held from 6:30-8 p.m. Oct. 12 at Mount Vernon High School. It had been previously stated that this town hall would look at the cost of the epidemic. Mavis had earlier sent letters to all EMS, law enforcement, judicial and probation offices and treatment or rehab organizations in the county, asking them to calculate costs they have incurred due to the drug problem.
Not everyone replied, but Mavis distributed the information that has been received and urged committee members to contact associates in agencies that did not respond and try to get some figures.
Mavis said he thought they should follow the same format as the previous meetings, with presentations by representatives in four different areas, followed by a question and answer period.
Who will make the presentations will be determined by the people working in each category.
Mount Vernon Fire Chief Chad Christopher will head the EMS portion. He said he thought Fredericktown EMS Chief Rick Lanuzza will help and he will also call on Mount Vernon EMS Coordinator Trevor Williams.
Mount Vernon Police Chief Roger Monroe and Capt. Scott McKnight will head the law enforcement presentation; Judges John Thatcher and Richard Wetzel will head the judicial/probation presentation; and Knox Community Hospital CEO Bruce White and Freedom Center Director Jeff Williams will coordinate the treatment and rehab presentation.
Some costs are difficult to pinpoint, some of the participants noted. Christopher and Monroe both commented on difficulties in separating drug-related costs from the general cost of responding to calls, although they can refer to some specifics, such as the growing number of doses of Narcan administered, although even that can be misleading, noted the fire chief, because there are more cases where multiple doses are required to revive a patient.
White noted there are complications to calculating hospital costs because Medicaid reimbursement, which pays for many cases of treatment, don’t actually cover the hospital’s treatment costs.
However, he said they can point to growing numbers of treatment cases coming to the hospital, which are to the point of averaging 1.5 every day.
Williams noted that they have a limit to how many patients they can take at the Freedom Center; it’s harder to say how many don’t get in.
The courts can point to growing numbers of people involved in Drug Court or probation-related drug rehabilitation programs.
Mavis said he will check back with the coordinators in three weeks to see how things are shaping up. He commented that “It won’t be easy, but the result could be a good program.”