Stark numbers show heroin’s local grip

Published: Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 3:47 PM
Updated: Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 3:47 PM

Dayton Police took this syringe as evidence following an overdose call on Sept. 20, 2016. CHRIS STEWART / STAFF
Chris Stewart

An average of seven Montgomery County residents a day were treated for drug overdoses by emergency departments in 2016, and one person alone made eight trips to the ER. Eleven people were treated twice in the same day for overdoses.

The stark figures — amassed largely due to a devastating heroin epidemic — are found in a new Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County report just sent to members of a Community Overdose Action Team formed last year to slow the number of overdose deaths in the county.

Overall, 2,255 Montgomery County patients received emergency treatment last year for overdoses. Almost 13 percent — or 287 patients — made multiple trips to an emergency department.

RELATED: Ohio tops nation in opioid overdoses

The 12-page report was not distributed to alarm the community, but rather to assist local officials in analyzing overdose trends and finding solutions, said Dan Suffoletto, spokesman for Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County.

“The reason for sending this out is to show an example of how we get data here to make decisions and distribute resources when an anomaly occurs,” Suffoletto said.

RELATED: More potent drugs raise stakes in Ohio’s fight against opioids

Hospital and urgent care emergency data — stripped of identifying information — are reported in near real time to the Ohio Department of Health’s EpiCenter, the state’s syndromic surveillance system. The system, traditionally used to monitor influenza pandemics and detect environmental exposures and potential bioterrorism, was expanded in 2015 to monitor drug-related emergency room visits.

Miami Valley Hospital saw 968 — or 33.6 percent — of the county’s overdose patients in 2016. Good Samaritan Hospital received 588 (20.4 percent) patients followed by Grandview Medical Center with 380 (13.2 percent), Kettering Memorial Hospital with 239 (8.3 percent), and Sycamore Hospital with 201 (7 percent).

RELATED: Dayton tops list of drugged-out cities

Montgomery County Commissioner Dan Foley said up-to-date information will help the Community Overdose Action Team he leads meet its goal of first stabilizing and then reducing the number of overdose deaths. In 2015, the last year for which full records are available, 259 people died of unintentional overdose deaths in Montgomery County.

“We need good data to help us target our limited resources as we work toward reducing the number of opiate deaths in our community,” Foley said. “This report about emergency room usage due to drug overdose incidents is the kind of information that the community will begin to see on a more frequent basis.”

RELATED: Montgomery County to combat overdose deaths like public health crisis

The team is comprised of representatives from many community organizations including Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County, the Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services board of Montgomery County, Dayton Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, and others including those in the courts and criminal justice system.

More than 60 percent of the emergency department visits were by patients between the ages of 25 and 49. Overall, males accounted for 54 percent of emergency department visits. Girls under 17, however, were more than three times as likely to be treated for an overdose than boys.

The report represents an estimate of overdoses based on a the chief complaint registered when a patient enters an emergency department. Further, the report is not limited to opioid overdoses. In recent years, opioids accounted for more than 90 percent of overdose deaths in the county.

Our reporters have closely followed the heroin crisis for years with an eye toward those working on solutions to a complex public health crisis. Find previous stories on our premium website myDaytonDailyNews.com.

By the numbers

2,255: Number of Montgomery County patients who received emergency treatment last year for overdoses.

13: Percentage of those patients who made multiple trips to the emergency room.

259: Number of people who died of unintentional overdose deaths in Montgomery County in 2015.

11: Number of people who were treated twice in the same day in 2016.

Source: Public Health - Dayton & Montgomery County

Connecticut educator teaches students life lessons after being diagnosed with ALS

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 11:38 AM



Oko_SwanOmurphy/Getty Images/iStockphoto

Nearly 11 months after being diagnosed with Asymotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Connecticut educator Andrew Niblock is using his diagnosis to teach students about life.

>> Read more trending news

Niblock, the head of the elementary school at Greenwich Country Day School in Connecticut, said he wanted to continue working after being diagnosed with the disease so that he could teach his students a lesson about life and be an example for them.

“I want children to understand curve balls,” the father of two told ABC News. “No matter what is thrown your way […] if a kid powers through or makes the most of something later because of knowing me, that’d be great.”

>> RELATED: Neighborhood kids use lemonade stand to raise a surprising amount of money for disabled veteran

ALS, a rare and incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease, affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord and causes the brain to be unable to initiate and control muscle movement, according to the ALS Association. As a result, people may lose the ability to speak, eat, move and breathe, with some patients ending up completely paralyzed in the later stages of the disease.

>> RELATED: Mass. teacher battling ALS fired months before earning pension

Instead of hiding the changes occurring to his speech and mobility, Niblock is working with the school’s headmaster to create age-appropriate videos with the goal of teaching students about ALS and spreading awareness about it.

By being open about his battle with the disease, Niblock said he hopes to convey to the students that hope is resilient.

“Hope can drive you forward,” he said. “And I hope […] that the kids see that, and run with it.”

Top 15 crusaders for health in America's food industry

Published: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM
Updated: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 @ 10:59 PM

Wondering how this year's list stacks up against the last? Check out Top 15 Crusaders for Health in the Food Industry 2012.

Amongst all the junk food commercials and donut sandwiches, there are a handful of health heroes. These aren’t just people who eat organic greens for lunch and free-range eggs for dinner; they’re moving and shaking the way we think about our food, including where it comes from, the implications it has on our environment, and what our meals mean for our bodies. Here, we recognize 15 superstars (in no particular order) that have devoted themselves to improving American’s relationship with food.

1. Marion Nestle
Nestle has got her hand in nearly every facet of America’s food industry. Her blog, Food Politics, covers topics from nutrition and biology to health policy and food marketing. She’s been teaching nutrition for nearly four decades and currently teaches sociology, food studies, and public health at NYU. Nestle is the author of many books, but her latest — “Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics” — is all about understanding the intersection of health and food amidst all the mass marketing and misinformation put forth by major food manufacturers. Currently, Nestle updates her blog regularly and presents at universities and conferences on topics such as genetically modified foods and the role food companies play in our food system. (Photo: www.foodpolitics.com)

2. Michael Pollan
As one of the foremost activists for change in the overwrought food industry, Pollan is an outspoken and often controversial figure in the food and farming space. Though probably best known for his book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” (which hung out on The New York Times Bestseller list for more than three years), Pollan has continued to write. In his most recent book, “Cooked”, Pollan explores how cooking connects us to plants, animals, farmers, and culture (amongst other things). (Photo by Ken Light)

3. Michelle Obama
After launching the Let’s Move! campaign at the start of 2010, the First Lady has made healthifying America’s eating habits (especially for kids) her job. The ultimate goal is to eliminate childhood obesity and help kids live healthier lives with good food and a little extra physical activity. This year, Obama held the second annual “Healthy Lunchtime Challenge,” where she asked children ages eight to 12 to whip up nutritious, tasty, and affordable recipes. Unfortunately, we weren’t invited to the White House kids’ “State Dinner” with the winner of this year’s challenge. (Photo: www.whitehouse.gov)

4. Mark Bittman
As an author and New York Times writer,Bittman likes to weigh in on what’s wrong with the American diet. A part-time veganhimself, Bittman is an advocate for the “flexitarian” diet — which means eating vegan during the day, but allowing for more flexible consumption after 6 pm. His super popular book, “How to Cook Everything”, is a go-to resource for basic kitchen skills. Not only does he push for humans to stay healthy, Bittman relentlessly encourages us to keep the environment happy and healthy, too. Oh, and in his spare time, he runsmarathons(Photo: www.markbittman.com)

5. Mike Bloomberg
As the mayor of New York City, Bloombergtakes his role seriously, making waves in the name of public health. From smoking bans tosoda bans, Bloomberg’s initiatives aren’t without controversy and backlash. Passionate about combating obesity, he’s pushed for salad bars and healthier menus in school cafeterias. Plus, he’s managed to eliminate trans fats from tons of restaurant items, and make it mandatory for chain restaurants to clearly post calorie counts on menus. We’re excited to see what goals Bloomberg sets (and reaches) next. (Photo: www.nyc.gov)

For the full list of 2013's top health crusaders in the food industry, go to Greatist.com.

Tick spreading in the US gives people meat allergies 

Published: Wednesday, June 21, 2017 @ 3:27 PM

A bite from the aggressive Lone Star tick could do more than give you an irritable rash — it could potentially induce a dangerous meat allergy.

» RELATED: How to prevent, find and get rid of ticks this summer 

The tick, widely distributed in the southeastern and eastern United States, is spreading to even more areas, including Minnesota, New Hampshire and Long Island, New York, and is making people allergic to just a single bite of meat.

According to Wired.com, something in the tick bite makes people sensitive to the sugar compound alpha-galactose, or alpha-gal, found in meat from mammals.

» RELATED: What is Lyme disease and how to avoid it 

And unlike most allergies, which are dependent on a mix of genetic and environmental factors, alpha-gal allergies seem to affect anyone and everyone, regardless of genetic makeup, Wired reported.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals

Some bite victims will experience a hive-like rash or a dangerous anaphylactic reaction about four hours after eating meat. 

» RELATED: WATCH: Young girl left temporarily paralyzed illustrates dangers of tick bites

Such allergies are still incredibly rare and the government hasn’t issued any health warnings yet, but according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the distribution, range and abundance of the Lone Star tick has increased steadily in the past 20 to 30 years.

» RELATED: Rare tick-borne illness worries some medical professionals 
“We expect with warming temperatures, the tick is going to slowly make its way northwards and westward and cause more problems than they’re already causing,” Ronald Staff, allergist and clinical professor of medicine, told Business Insider.

» RELATED: Girl dies from possible tick bite

Saff said he's now seeing patients every week who have been bitten by ticks and developed the meat allergy.

The best thing to do while scientists continue research to track and understand the species is to try to prevent tick bites overall.

» RELATED: Woman loses arms, legs after tick bite 

The CDC recommends avoiding tick habitats, using insect repellents with DEET or permethrin and actively checking for ticks after you’ve been outdoors.

Click here to read more on tick prevention and removal tips.

Guns kill nearly 1,300 children a year in U.S., study finds

Published: Tuesday, June 20, 2017 @ 2:25 AM

On Monday, the American Academy of Pediatrics released a study that will be in the July issue of “Pediatrics” and its recommendations in response to the study. “Childhood Firearm Injuries in the United States” is the largest study to look at the number of gun-related injuries and death in children and adolescents. It looked at numbers from National Vital Statistics System, the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System and the National Violent Death Reporting System.

>> Read more trending news

Here’s what it found:

  • On average, 1,297 children a year die in the U.S. from gunshot wounds and 5,790 are treated for a gunshot wound.
  • Death from a firearm is the third-leading cause of death for children in the U.S. behind illness/congenital defect and motor vehicle injury.
  • 53 percent of gun deaths in children were homicides, 38 percent were suicides, 6 percent were unintentional deaths, and 3 percent were due to legal intervention or undetermined intent.
  • Homicide deaths by firearms in children have declined, but suicide deaths are on the rise.
  • 4.2 percent of children ages 0 to 17 in the United States have witnessed a shooting in the past year.
  • 82 percent of children killed by guns were boys.
  • Children 13-17 years old had a 12-times higher rate of being killed by a firearm than children 12 and younger.
  • Race mattered: The annual firearm homicide rate for African-American children (3.5 per 100,000) was nearly twice as high as the rate for American Indian children (2.2 per 100,000), 4 times higher than the rate for Hispanic children (0.8 per 100,000), and ∼10 times higher than the rate for white children and Asian-American children (each 0.4 per 100,000).
  • The suicide rate was highest for white and American Indian children (each 2.2 per 100,000), almost four times the amount for African-American (0.6 per 100,000) and Hispanic (0.5 per 100,000) children and over 5 times the rate for Asian-American children (0.4 per 100,000).
  • The rate of unintentional firearm deaths for African-American children was twice as high (0.2 per 100 000) as the rate for white children (0.1 per 100,000) and 4 times the rate for Hispanic children (0.05 per 100,000).
  • Southern states and parts of the Midwest had the highest rate of firearm homicides among children.
  • Firearm suicides are more evenly distributed among states, but higher in Western states.
  • In younger children, homicides often happen in a multivictim scenario and by family conflict.
  • Older children were more likely to die from crime and violence.
  • A shooter playing with the gun was the most common reason for an unintentional firearm death for all children.
  • Of children who committed suicide by firearm, 60 percent used a handgun, 42 percent had a crisis in the past, 71 percent had relationship problems, 34 percent were depressed, 26 percent had a clinically diagnosed mental health problem, 18 percent were receiving mental health treatment and 26 percent disclosed their intent to die by suicide to someone. Most spent 10 minutes or less thinking about it before they did it.

What are pediatricians to do with this information? And what are parents supposed to do?

  1. Ask parents if there are guns in their house.
  2. Do not get in a debate about their rights to have a gun.
  3. Talk about safe storage practices such as a gun safe and lock, storing guns unloaded and storing bullets separately.