Winnebago County leaders launching new efforts to combat drug overdose deaths

Overdose Fatality Review Team in Winnebago County Tuesday, March 20, 2018. (WLUK/Pafoua Yang)

OSHKOSH (WLUK) -- Multiple groups in Winnebago County have one goal: To find out what's driving overdose deaths in the community.

"We really want to know what's going on and we want to target our strategies and resources in ways that are going to be effective. So we have a lot of guesses but we don't necessarily know," said Stephanie Glydenvand with the Winnebago County Health Department.

Glydenvand said while the project is being organized by the department, its strength comes from the more than 25 partner agencies.

Mallory O'Brien with the Medical College said each agency will review overdose fatality cases and then come up with recommendations during their monthly meetings.

"We'll look at it all together and look at what could we have done differently, what could we do better together to actually change the outcomes of these events," said O'Brien.

Winnebago County is one of the six counties in the state selected to receive $25,000 for a year from the federal government. Three more counties will be selected next year.

"We looked at rates, we looked at numbers to make the decision on which sites would be selected," explained O'Brien.

According to the Winnebago County Health Department, in 2013 there were 14 overdose deaths. In 2017, overdose deaths went up to 31.

Kim Maki with the county coroner's office said half the deaths are related to opiates.

"There is no specific demographic really and that's something I'm really looking forward to with this review team," said Maki.

Maki said right now, there are still a lot of questions but the new project will hopefully bring answers.

The other counties receiving money are the state's most populous counties: Milwaukee and Dane, plus La Crosse, Kenosha and Sauk.

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