Health & Fitness

Johnson County to host opioid panel discussion

Johnson County officials have scheduled a panel discussion on opioid misuse for Thursday.
Johnson County officials have scheduled a panel discussion on opioid misuse for Thursday.

Johnson County officials have scheduled a public panel discussion on opioid misuse and addiction Thursday with representatives of law enforcement, medical personnel, and mental health and emergency medical services workers.

The event is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. to noon Thursday at the Ball Conference Center, 21350 W. 153rd St. in Olathe.

“Individuals in Johnson County are dying from opioid misuse, and we have a responsibility to provide effective prevention and treatment services for the health and well-being of our community,”said Tim DeWeese, director of the Johnson County Mental Health Center.

The event will include Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe, members of law enforcement, Johnson County Emergency Medical Services and medical doctors from the University of Kansas, as well as Cottonwood Springs psychiatric hospital in Olathe.

According to county-level health data compiled by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, there were 257 drug overdose deaths in Johnson County in 2014, 284 deaths in 2015 and 152 deaths in 2016.

DeWeese said he couldn’t explain the drop last year but believes it might be due to inconsistencies in how such deaths are reported.

“That’s one of the things we want to talk about” on Thursday, DeWeese said.

Sedgwick County was the only county in Kansas with more overdose deaths in each of those years. More than half of the counties in the state didn’t submit data.

The data also don’t specify what type of drugs caused the deaths or whether they were illegal narcotics or legal prescription medications.

DeWeese said the goal of Thursday’s event will be to get a better evaluation of the scope of the opioid problem in Johnson County and then talk about how to keep it from getting worse.

“The epidemic that has been hitting the East and West Coast, we want to make sure that as it makes its way here, that we’re prepared,” DeWeese said.

The event is free and open to the public; however, attendees are asked to register by emailing jcmhcevents@jocogov.org or calling 913-715-7880.

Andy Marso: 816-234-4055, @andymarso

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