Officials discuss opioid crisis in Rowan County, pledge resources

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - So far in 2017, just within the city limits of Salisbury, there have been more than fifty overdose cases reported with five of those cases resulting in death.

"We are seeing, as the Salisbury police department, double the number of overdose calls from last year to this year," said Salisbury Police Chief Jerry Stokes.

Across Rowan County the numbers are much higher, and climbing every day. It isn't unusual for EMS crews to respond several times a day to overdose calls where they find victims passed out in cars or homes.

In 2007, ten years ago, as a county we responded to 31 drug overdoses," said Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten. "As of this morning we've already responded to 73 in the county, last year was our busiest year with 94 drug overdose cases."

Rowan County Emergency Services is also responding to a record number of calls, and they're discovering that they are visiting many of the same locations multiple times.

"We have had numerous calls to the same residence," said Battalion Chief Chris Richardson.  "With the Narcan being readily available and over the counter they're having group gatherings, their term is Narcan parties, where they have numerous people around, we'll have issues with that, using Narcan, try to wake them up."

On Thursday a panel consisting of representatives from the Salisbury Police Department, Rowan Sheriff's Office, Rowan County Emergency Medical Services, Daymark Recovery, and Novant Health held a press conference to discuss the opioid epidemic in Rowan.

They discussed how residents can assist in decreasing these incidents. Recovery professionals offered options for those interested in treatment.

Dari Caldwell, President of Novant Health Rowan Medical Center said that the hospital is in the process of renovating the top floor of a building on Mocksville for use as a substance abuse facility.

"We will be opening an intensive outpatient program by the end of the year that will be targeted to substance abuse," Caldwell said. "This will be a program that will allow patients that once they are discharged from the hospital that come on a daily basis for therapy and counseling and assistance for substance abuse problems."

The renovation is being made possible by a $250,000 grant from the Cannon Charitable Trust.

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