Medical examiner alerts community after 2 suspected overdose deaths within the past week

 

Kenosha County Medical Examiner Patrice Hall is reminding the community of the dangers of drug use following a pair of suspected overdose deaths last weekend.

 

These cases, both involving adults in the City of Kenosha, came just weeks after the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department reported responding to six, nonfatal overdose cases in a six-day period. There was also a third suspected overdose death earlier this month, Hall said.

 

“We saw an increase in overdoses in 2020 over 2019, and, unfortunately, this trend does not yet appear to be letting up,” Hall said. “While we’re awaiting toxicology results to determine the particulars of this past weekend’s cases, we know for sure that any use of illegal drugs and the misuse of prescription drugs can have deadly consequences.”

 

Toxicity deaths in Kenosha County totaled 49 in 2020, compared with 30 in 2019, 46 in 2018 and 57 in 2017, according to statistics compiled by the Medical Examiner’s Office. Toxicity includes deaths due to abuse of any drugs, such as alcohol, cocaine, heroin, fentanyl, prescription medications, or a combination thereof.

 

In the cases of the six nonfatal overdose calls that the Sheriff’s Department responded to from March 30 through April 4, some of the individuals reported they had consumed Xanax bars and Oxycodone pills, the department stated. All six of these individuals were not conscious or breathing when first responders arrived and were revived with Narcan, a medication used to counteract the effect of opioids.

 

Kenosha County Public Health offers Narcan training and free supplies of the medication to the public, through a grant from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. More information about this program is available at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/1916/Narcan-Distribution-Program, by calling 262-605-6741, or by sending an email to narcan@kenoshacounty.org.

 

Many other resources are also available to help people with a substance use disorder, Hall said. The Medical Examiner’s Office in partnership with the Kenosha County Opioid Task Force has compiled information about these in “This Packet Could Save a Life,” an envelope full of materials that is available in the lobby of the Kenosha County Public Safety Building and is often left behind by first responders at the scene of an overdose incident.

 

“The main thing we want people to know is that help is available,” Hall said. “No life should be lost to substance use, and there are people, organizations and agencies in Kenosha County that are devoted to preventing these tragedies.”

 

Hall noted that Vivent Health has free kits available to test substances for fentanyl, which is frequently seen in overdose deaths. Vivent Health-Kenosha can be reached at 262-657-6644.

 

Further information about prevention, treatment, and resources are listed below:

 

KNOW WHAT A SUSPECTED OVERDOSE LOOKS LIKE:

  • Use the acronym BLUE:
    • B (Breathing): The person is not breathing or breathing very slowly. They may be snoring or their breathing sounds like they are gurgling.
    • L (Lips): Lips and fingertips are turning blue.
    • U (Unresponsive): No response when you yell the person’s name or rub the middle of their chest hard.
    • E (Eyes): Center part of their eye is very small, also called “pinpoint pupil.”
  • IF AN OVERDOSE IS SUSPECTED, GIVE NARCAN (if available) AND CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY. You or someone you know will require follow-up medical attention.

 

TREATMENT/RESOURCES:

  • The Mental Health and Substance Abuse Resource Center, available at 262-764-8555 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday, can help you find treatment and services that are right for you such as counseling, medication assisted treatment, or a 12-step program. Call the 24-hour Kenosha County Crisis Intervention Line 262-657-7188 for more immediate assistance.
  • Professional Services Group provides the Comprehensive Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program at 262-654-1004
  • Resource packets that include information sheets and pamphlets about opioids and related community agencies and programs may be picked up in the lobby at the Public Safety Building, 1000 55th, Kenosha.
  • The “A Way Out” program at local police departments in Lake County, Ill., is available to anyone with private insurance, regardless of their residency. This program fast-tracks drug users to substance abuse programs and services. More information is available at awayoutlc.org.

 

PREVENTION:

  • LOCK UP YOUR MEDICATIONS: Keep track of quantity by regularly counting your tablets, in order to make sure they are being used as prescribed, and not misused.
  • DISPOSE OF UNUSED OR EXPIRED MEDICATION: Kenosha County has six medication drop boxes located at all the police departments. Visit http://www.kenoshacounty.org/314/MedicationNeedle-Disposal to find the nearest location and collection hours.
  • DO NOT SHARE your medications. Use only as prescribed.
  • When pain control is needed, ask your medical provider, dentist, or veterinarian if an alternative treatment or medication is available.
  • TALK WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY ABOUT THE DANGERS OF OPIOID/OPIATE USE. For information visit: https://www.saveliveskenosha.org/.

 

Modern Apothecary to offer COVID testing

A new, drive-thru COVID-19 testing opportunity is coming to Kenosha County beginning this Thursday, Oct. 15.

Locally owned, independent pharmacy Modern Apothecary will offer testing each Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday through at least Nov. 15 in the parking lot south of the Simmons Island Beach House, 5001 Fourth Ave., Kenosha. There is no charge for this testing.

Testing hours will be 2 to 6 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays. An appointment and pre-registration are strongly encouraged, with appointment times available at https://modernapothecary.10to8.com and registration available at https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov.

Anyone who lives or works in Wisconsin, ages 5 and above, can get tested. Results are expected within five to seven days.

Modern Apothecary is participating in the COVID-19 Testing Pilot Program through the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.

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The program will be directing CARES Act funding to

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local and tribal health departments or health care providers licensed by the State of Wisconsin

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to increase access to COVID-19 testing consistent with the local health department testing

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strategy.

“We are excited to offer greater access to testing in Kenosha,” said Modern Apothecary owner

and pharmacist, Dr. Erin Merritt. “As a member of this community, I want to see Kenosha make

the healthiest choices possible. I live here. My friends and family live here. My children attend

Kenosha Unified Schools. Hopefully, by increasing the number of days, times, and locations

available for testing, residents will be able to make safe and informed choices for themselves

and their families.”

This additional site makes easy, drive-thru testing available in Kenosha County six days a week, in addition to the referral-based testing offered by the local hospital systems and the Kenosha Community Health Center, said Kenosha County Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit.

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JOINT INFORMATION RELEASE

Joint Information Center (JIC)

Also beginning this week and continuing into December, the Wisconsin National Guard is conducting free testing each Monday at the Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road, Kenosha, and each Friday at the Kenosha County Center at highways 45 and 50 in Bristol. Testing hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both of these days; no appointment is needed, but advance registration is encouraged at https://register.covidconnect.wi.gov.

“Thanks to these efforts by our public and private partners, if you’re looking for COVID-19 testing in Kenosha County, you can now find it nearly every day,” Freiheit said.

Freiheit said those who are feeling symptoms of COVID-19 should contact their health care provider for guidance. She also stressed that those who have been in close contact with a positive case and/or have any symptoms — even if mild — should quarantine at home until they receive their test results.

“We have had a high number of people who returned to work after getting tested and later receive a positive result,” Freiheit said. “Because we then know they were working while infectious, we have to quarantine many more close contacts.”

For a full, frequently updated list of COVID-19 testing opportunities in and around Kenosha County, please visit http://bit.ly/KCCOVIDtesting. More information about the virus, including local statistics and links to resources, is available on the Kenosha County COVID-19 Information Hub website, at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/covid-19.

UW-Madison Division of Extension Program “The Literacy Link” Awarded $21,000 for New Books by Nonprofit First Book

KENOSHA– A new grant award to UW-Madison Extension aims to increase reading and literacy among children in Kenosha and Racine counties whose parents are involved in the justice system.

UW-Madison Extension’s Literacy Link project was selected to receive an award of $21,000 — $7,000 of which was allocated to Kenosha and Racine counties — to provide new, high-quality children’s books.

The Literacy Link aims to promote language and literacy skills in children, as well as foster healthy family relationships between young children and their justice-involved family members. Ashland, Bayfield, Buffalo, Dane, Dunn, Kenosha, Pepin, and Racine counties are piloting the program.

With the award, the program will provide more than 5,000 new books to children across the state. The books will be distributed to jails, libraries, courts and other community spaces where children in justice-involved families interact, at no cost to the families.

“With this award, we are supporting families in providing literacy-rich experiences for their children during parental involvement with the justice system. We are also creating opportunities for parents to maintain their relationships with their children through reading and other literacy activities,” said Pam Wedig-Kirsch, School Readiness & Family Resiliency Educator for Extension Racine County. “Why a focus on literacy? Research tells us that early literacy skills lead to school success, which in turn, leads to life satisfaction as an adult. Also, a nurturing parent-child connection can reduce the effect on the child during a parent’s involvement with the justice system.”

The high-quality children’s books donated by First Book Marketplace allow for more literacy opportunities for children in our community impacted by their parents’ involvement in the justice system.

The children’s books will be used to:

  1. Educate parents who are involved with the justice system on ways to use books to create positive interactions with their children.
  2. Connect children with their parents through a recorded reading program.
  3. Add literacy opportunities to visiting areas in justice settings.
  4. Provide books to children visiting their parents, building their home libraries.
  5. Create child-friendly, literacy-rich video visiting spaces.

First Book, the nonprofit social enterprise focused on equal access to quality education for children in need, awarded the funds as part of its OMG Books Awards: Offering More Great Books to Spark Innovation, a program that will give more than $4.7 million in funding to distribute 1.5 million brand new books and eBooks to children living in low-income communities in 33 U.S. states and territories.

Awardees are using the funding to select books and eBooks from the First Book Marketplace (www.fbmarketplace.com), First Book’s award-winning eCommerce platform, that best meet the needs of the children they serve. First Book estimates the total value of the books distributed will be more than $12 million.

“We know that access to books and eBooks makes a significant difference in a child’s future success,” said Kyle Zimmer, First Book president, CEO, and cofounder. “Children do not thrive in deeply under-resourced environments and too many of the schools and programs have far too little. This deprivation has long-term consequences for the children, their families, their communities and our nation. This could not be more urgent. With the OMG Books Awards, First Book and the Literacy Link are investing not only in the future of the kids we’re reaching, but in the overall wellbeing of our nation.”

Access to adequate resources is one of the greatest contributors to educational success in the United States.[1] Research indicates that just the presence of books in the home improves educational outcomes, yet low-income communities across the U.S. are plagued by vast ‘book deserts’—with one community having only a single book per as many as 830 children.[2] Additionally, members of the First Book Network, who exclusively serve kids in need, have indicated that without First Book, the children they serve would have access to very few books, if any at all.[3] (References below).

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up to receive resources from First Book outside of OMG Books Awards at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

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About The Literacy Link

Over the past two years, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension has been implementing strategies through a University of Wisconsin System-funded pilot project called The Literacy Link to engage children with justice-involved parents and their families in literacy activities and to develop language-rich learning spaces in local correctional systems. For more information, please visit theliteracylink.extension.wisc.edu.

About First Book

First Book believes education offers children in need the best path out of poverty. Through sustainable, market-driven models, First Book breaks down barriers to quality education by making new, high-quality books and educational resources, including sports equipment, winter coats, snacks, and more, affordable to its member network of more than 400,000 registered educators who exclusively serve kids in need. Since 1992, First Book has distributed more learning materials than any other program of its kind: 175 million books and educational resources, worth more than $1.5 billion, reaching more than 5 million children annually across the U.S. and Canada.

First Book also expands the breadth and depth of the education field through a family of social enterprises, including First Book Research & Insights, its proprietary research initiative, and the First Book Accelerator, which brings best-in-class research to the classroom via relevant, usable educator resources.

Eligible educators, librarians, providers, and others serving children in need can sign up at firstbook.org/join. For more information, please visit firstbook.org or follow the latest news on Facebook and Twitter.

[1] Sikora, et al. DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssresearch.2018.10.003

[2] Susan B. Neuman, Naomi Moland. “Book Deserts.” Urban Education, 2016. DOI: 10.1177/0042085916654525

[3] First Book Member Survey, 2016

 

Text-to-911 service now available across Kenosha County

Text-to-911 service now available across Kenosha County

Text-to-911 service now available across Kenosha County

KENOSHA - Mobile phone users in Kenosha County now have a new way to access emergency services.

Text-to-911 capabilities were recently enabled for all of the cellphone providers that serve the county, Kenosha Joint Services announced today.

But while people can now text their emergency to 911, officials note that dialing in and talking with a dispatcher remains the most efficient way to get help in most circumstances.

“If you want help fast, call us,” said Mike Blodgett, public safety communications manager for Joint Services, an independent organization that handles dispatch and other services for Kenosha city and county law enforcement and fire and rescue departments.

Where text-to-911 could be beneficial, Blodgett said, is for members of the deaf and hard-of- hearing community, for those calling from areas where cell service is limited and calls might not be able to be placed, and for those in situations where talking on the phone could place a person in danger.

If texting 911 seems like the best option, Blodgett said it is very helpful to include in the message your location (including address, if possible, and the municipality where you are located) and a brief description of the nature of your emergency. Blodgett cautioned that dispatch is not able to pinpoint the exact location of texters.

Also, Blodgett noted, there is no guarantee that a text message will be delivered as intended. Those who do successfully transmit a 911 text to Joint Services dispatch will receive an automated return message confirming delivery.

Text-to-911 was one of the components Joint Services sought in a 2017 upgrade of its 911 software system. Joint Services then had to negotiate adoption of the service with each of the cell carriers that serve the area.

Cellphones from out-of-area regional carriers that are roaming in Kenosha County will not be guaranteed text-to-911 service here. Cellphones must also be on an active phone plan to text 911. Other messaging services, such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, are not able to reach 911.

Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser said that while text-to-911 has some limitations, it is a valuable service to offer to residents and visitors of the county. Kenosha is one of just a handful

of counties to enable this service in southeastern Wisconsin; others include Waukesha and Rock counties.

“I echo our partners at Joint Services in urging people to still call 911 when in need, if they can,” Kreuser said. “But for cases where sending a text makes the most sense, I’m pleased that we’re able to offer another way for people in need to access life-saving services.”

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian also celebrated the arrival of the new service.

“The Joint Services text-to-911 service provides another level to public safety in the City of Kenosha, continuing our commitment to put citizen safety first,” Antaramian said. “It will be a great asset for the city and county alike.”

Any road that can be traveled to help people reach dispatch to get help is a positive step forward, said Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth.

“I love the fact that this is another tool in our belt that we can use to help people,” Beth said.

A few 911 texting tips from Joint Services:

  • Don’tuse text abbreviations; use full words.
  • Don’ttext and drive.
  • If you are in a situation where talking on the phone could put you in danger, remember to silence your phone before texting 911.
  • In your text, state your location, including address and the municipality where you are located (such as Kenosha, Somers, Pleasant Prairie, Salem Lakes, Wheatland, ).
  • Include a brief description of your emergency.
  • If your text is successful, you will receive an automated return message confirming delivery.
  • Voice calls are best!

For more information about Kenosha Joint Services and the public safety services it provides, visit www.kenoshais.org.

Kenosha County Suffrage 100 effort launches website, Facebook page

Kenosha County Suffrage 100 effort launches website, Facebook page

KENOSHA – A steering committee formed to coordinate and promote local celebrations of the upcoming 100thanniversary of women receiving the right to vote has launched a website and Facebook page, Kenosha County Executive Jim Kreuser announced today.

The Kenosha County Suffrage 100 website may be accessed at http://www.kenoshacounty.org/suffrage. It is intended to be a clearinghouse for information about events being held throughout 2020.

“Groups and organizations planning Suffrage 2020 activities next year can now begin to put planned events on a countywide calendar,” Kreuser said. “It’s our hope to fill the calendar with informational, educational and entertaining events surrounding the topic of suffrage and the future of voting.”

Schools, nonprofit organizations, businesses and citizens organizing suffrage-related activities are encouraged to submit event information to a calendar form on the site.

The site also includes links to relevant news articles and other historical information about the suffrage movement. While Aug. 26, 2020, is the anniversary of the enactment of the 19thAmendment, it is Kenosha County’s intention for the celebration to last all year.

People interested in the Suffrage 100 effort are also encouraged to like our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/KenoshaCountySuffrage100.

Kreuser earlier this year appointed 14 individuals to the Kenosha County Suffrage 100 Steering Committee.

They are: Cathryn Bothe, Guida Brown, Pam Drummond, Gail Gentz, Diane Giles, Lisa Guerrero, Adelene Greene, Frances Kavenik, Judge Barbara Kluka, Jennifer Meixelsperger, Cameron Swallow, Jennie Tunkieicz, Judge Mary Wagner and Joan Wilk.

“I am honored to serve with this terrific group of women, to build community awareness of the movement that brought us all the right to vote,” Wagner said. “I encourage organizations and individuals to get involved, and to share their activities through our new website and Facebook page.”

The steering committee may be contacted at KenoshaCountySuffrage100@gmail.com.