Sparrow News: New Q2 drug report shows rise in local drug deaths

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LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Between April 1 and June 30, drug-related deaths increased by 30.2% in five Michigan Counties in a study conducted by Sparrow Forensic Pathology Services.

The report also shows significant increases in mortality due to opioid and fentanyl use over the course of Q2 compared with Q2 2019 and Q1 2020.

The counties researched in the report include: Eaton, Ionia, Ingham, Isabella and Shiawassee counties.

Phil Pavona is the founder and vice president of the Ingham County Families Against Narcotics. He knows the horrors of addiction personally.

“It will steal your soul. it will steal your family. it will steal every kind of goal or dream you’ve ever had in your life,” Pavona said.

And it’s a tragedy more families in Mid-Michigan are experiencing. Health experts say between April and June, preliminary data shows a high increase in drug-related deaths.

“2019 was our lowest year thus far so a huge spike like this is pretty significant,” Michelle Fox, a forensic pathology supervisor at Sparrow said.

A total of 52 people in Ingham, Eaton, Ionia, Isabella, and Shiawassee Counties died due to opioids.

But it is still too early to tell if the high numbers are due to the pandemic.

“We won’t know that until the following year– when we can see things start to normalize again and we can see where our numbers start to lie,” Fox said.

But Pavona said something he is certain of is that he should’ve looked for help sooner.

“Don’t do what i did, which was to do it quietly on our own trying to access a system that’s really hard to access,” Pavona said.

In Eaton County alone, total drug deaths are down in Q2 compared to Q1 while opioid-related deaths and fentanyl-related deaths remained the same between the two periods. There was no change between deaths related to benzodiazepines and opioids with Benzodiazepines over the three quarters.

In Ingham County, all but one of the drug-related deaths were by accident. The only one that was not an accident was a suicide.

In Ingham County, drug-related deaths were up in all categories (opioid, fentanyl, Benzodiazepines, amphetamines, opioids with Benzodiazepines) except for cocaine-related deaths — Q2 2020 saw a decrease in those deaths.


The report provides detail on each drug death and the type of drug involved. The report, and other Forensic Pathology findings, can be found at https://www.sparrow.org/omereports.

When you get to the page, click on “2020 Q2 Drug Report.”
As the Office of the Medical Examiner for the five counties, Sparrow is nationally accredited by the National Association of Medical Examiners to perform autopsies, postmortem examinations, and on-scene forensic death investigations as an important part of the investigation process.

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