Lucas County morgue filling up, drug overdoses to blame

Lucas County morgue filling up, drug overdoses to blame

LUCAS COUNTY, OH (WTOL) - Drugs are to blame for busy coroner's offices all over the country.

Recently in Stark County, the coroner had to bring in a mobile morgue because they ran out of space.

The Lucas County Coroner's Office is not immune to the drug problem.

Dr. Jim Patrick, Lucas County coroner, says they have 30 spots available.

While they haven't had to bring in a mobile morgue, they have been full.

Dr. Patrick says they've asked hospitals and funeral homes to hold on to bodies for a little bit longer, while they make room in the morgue.

"So far, by shuffling, we've managed, but it is a problem," said Dr. Patrick.

Helping in the reshuffling process is an updated system.

Dr. Patrick says they've gone digital, using scanners on bar codes to keep track of who is in their care and how long they've been there.

"Can we, you know, move the process along of being able to release the body to the funeral home or wherever they're going?" said Dr. Patrick.

Dr. Patrick says the opiate overdose epidemic is the reason why their morgue space is filling up.

"We did a record number of autopsies last year, and we're on track to exceed that significantly this year," said Dr. Patrick. "And it's primarily because of the overdose problem."

According to the toxicology case load, the Lucas County Coroner's office, which serves 21 counties, saw nearly 200 overdose deaths because of Fentanyl in 2016.

That's compared to just eleven in 2013.

On the receiving end of what addiction can do, Dr. Patrick says more education and awareness is needed to stop people from coming through his door.

"We need more treatment for the people that are addicted, and we need to work very hard at keeping people from becoming addicted through the initial use of prescription narcotics," said Dr. Patrick.

Dr. Patrick says he hopes they never have to expand facilities, and says he suspects people will eventually recognize the danger of these drugs and stop.

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