Northern Kentucky receives federal help to fight heroin

Designated High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area
Posted at 6:58 PM, Oct 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-13 19:07:06-04

COVINGTON. Ky. – Bad news is good news for the people in Northern Kentucky leading the fight against heroin and other illegal drugs.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy just announced plans to provide federal resources for those counties impacted most by the growing drug epidemic. And Boone, Kenton, and Campbell Counties has been officially designated part of the Ohio High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, joining Hamilton and Warren.

"I do think this is exceptionally good news for Northern Kentucky," said Kim Moser, director of the NKY Office of Drug Control Policy.

The chart below shows that the number of heroin overdoses treated by the six St. Elizabeth Emergency Departments exploded in July and August – from 187 last year to 313 – after being down slightly in the first six months.

Chart of heroin overdoses treated at St. Elizabeth Emergency Departments since 2011

St. Elizabeth health experts believe extra federal resources could help meet the high demand for treatment.

"We have ways to get them into treatment, but we have to have more opportunities and we have to make it accessible for them, too," said Ashel Kruetzcamp, nursing manager for St. Elizabeth Emergency. "If they have to wait 24 to 48 hours or longer, we've already lost that golden window."

Increased education is another need. And, with the help of local law enforcement, Northern Kentucky hopes to have more resources to stop the spread of the drug epidemic.

"What I hope this will help with is streamlining communications between the FBI, DEA, and ATF," said Moser, "to give them more staffing if that's what they need and really flush out what is lacking in the community."

The federal program will also provide equipment, technology and additional resources targeting prescription drugs and more.

READ more in our special coverage: "Heroin in the Tri-State."