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/.

 

County announces Covid vaccination walk-in schedule

Kenosha County Public Health will be able to serve walk-in clients at COVID-19 community vaccination clinics this Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, April 21, 22 and 24, Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit announced today.

This opportunity is open to anyone age 16 or above who lives, works or studies in Kenosha County. No appointments are needed.

The walk-in schedule is:
n Noon to 6 p.m. Wednesday at Westosha Central High School, 24617 75th St., Paddock

Lake.
n 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday at the former Shopko building, 5300 52nd St., Kenosha. n 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the former Shopko.

“Our supply of the vaccine has increased in recent days, allowing us to offer these walk-in opportunities,” Freiheit said. “If you or someone you know hasn’t been able to schedule an appointment in the past, this is a great opportunity to come out and take an easy step to help protect your health and get our community closer to our 75 percent herd immunity goal.”

Freiheit said it is now particularly important for teens 16 and over and other younger adults to become vaccinated, as new variants of COVID-19 appear to be infecting more people in those age groups.

“Everyone’s ultimate goal of getting back to ‘normal’ as soon as possible is dependent upon stopping the further spread of the virus and its variants, and the way to do that is to get vaccinated,” Freiheit said.

For more information, to see links to other local vaccine providers, please visit the Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub website at http://bit.ly/KCCOVIDHub, or click the flashing red button at the top of the homepage at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/.

Matoska-Mentink announces County Executive Candidacy

Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, Kenosha County Clerk of Circuit Court, today is announcing her candidacy for Kenosha County Executive in 2022. 

 

“I love Kenosha County. This is my hometown. It is where I was raised and where I raised my children,” Matoska-Mentink said. “I have the experience, the commitment, and dedication to work for a strong future for all of our citizens and for future generations.”

 

Matoska-Mentink outlined these priorities as she begins her campaign:

  • To continue the growth of our county’s economic development so that all residents can find quality employment.
  • To strengthen our neighborhoods, towns, and villages so that all residents feel valued and welcomed in a safe and healthy environment.
  • To continue to provide a fiscally responsible government that is accountable to its taxpayers.

 

As Clerk of Circuit Court, Matoska-Mentink manages a staff of 40 people, develops and oversees a $5 million annual budget, and collects $3 million in annual revenues.

 

“Fiscal responsibility and collaboration are key components to my goals as County Executive,” Matoska-Mentink said. “I have demonstrated my ability to lead and manage people, and to develop and work within a budget. My experience working with nearly all Kenosha County Departments also provides a framework for a seamless transition when County Executive Jim Kreuser retires.”

 

Matoska-Mentink began her career with Kenosha County in 1998 with the Child Support Agency. She accepted the position as Office Manager of the District Attorney's Office in 2003, prior to being elected to the position of Clerk of Circuit Court in 2007.

 

She received a BA in History from UW-Parkside, a paralegal certification from Carthage College, and a Masters of Science in Management from Cardinal Stritch. Prior to joining Kenosha County Government, she worked as a paralegal at Sfasciotti and Associates, was admissions secretary at Kenosha Hospital and Medical Center, and was an auditor at a hotel.

 

Matoska-Mentink has a long involvement in local non-profit organizations and in the community. Her board service includes: Hope Council on Alcohol and Other Drugs; Kenosha Achievement Center; Gateway Technical College; Wisconsin Clerks of Court Association; the Wisconsin Child Support Enforcement Association the Pleasant Prairie Police and Fire Commission. She also serves on the Susan B. Anthony-Women of Influence Awards Committee, the Wisconsin Counties Association CAP Team, and the Shalom Center Golf Outing Committee.

 

She has also been recognized as the Boys & Girls Club Volunteer of the Year and the DARE Distinguished Patron of the Year.

 

“I take pride in being involved in my community at so many levels and plan to carry this passion to the Office of the County Executive,” Matoska-Mentink said. “Many of my educational and career experiences have led me to this opportunity, and I look forward to working with all community partners for a better, stronger and healthier Kenosha County.”

 

Matoska-Mentink lives in Pleasant Prairie and is the mother of Tony and Krissy, and has one grandson, Lucas.

Chairman announces appointment of Kim Lewis to 23rd District County Board seat

Kenosha County Board Chairman John O’Day today announced his appointment of Twin Lakes resident Kim Lewis to the board’s vacant 23rd District seat.

The appointment will go before the full board for a confirmation vote at the start of the meeting at 7:30 p.m. this Wednesday, April 7.

Lewis was one of four district residents who applied for the position and underwent interviews with O’Day last week.

The 23rd District seat has been vacant since the March 3 death of Supervisor Lon Wienke.

Lewis is an attorney who has served as a village trustee and as village attorney in Twin Lakes.

“I am confident that he will bring not only significant experience in local government, but that he will also bring a commitment to act in the best interest of the citizens of the 23rd District and the county as a whole,” O’Day said.

The four applicants, in addition to Lewis, were Mark Starzyk, Tracy Strother and Cathleen Zamazal.

“The citizens of the 23rd District, as well as the citizens of Kenosha County, are extremely fortunate to have had four qualified individuals step up and offer to give their time to this position,” O’Day said.

The 23rd District includes the Village of Twin Lakes and portions of the Town of Randall.

If confirmed by the board, Lewis will serve until a successor is elected in the 2022 spring nonpartisan election and will be eligible to run for the position in that election.

Boundless Adventures to open for 2021 season, with social distancing measures in place

BRISTOL — The Boundless Adventures aerial adventure park within Kenosha County’s Bristol Woods Park is set to open for the season this Friday, April 2, Parks Director Matthew Collins announced today.

Similar to last year, the park will operate with additional COVID-19 safety measures in place, including capacity limits and social distancing requirements. Reservations will be required to control the number of patrons on the premises at any given time.

“We are pleased to welcome Boundless Adventures back to Bristol Woods for its third season,” Collins said. “People of all ages will again have the unique opportunity to climb through the canopy of the park, and they’ll be able to do it safely with all of the precautions that have been put in place.”

Operating in a public-private partnership with Kenosha County Parks, Boundless Adventures features six acres of obstacle courses that range in difficulty based on the ability and experience of the individual.

The aerial adventure park utilizes cables connected to trees or utility poles to build nine courses with over 120 elements that range 20 to 40 feet above the ground for climbers to safely maneuver to each feature. Climbers are outfitted with a full-body harness and are locked onto a safety line with a redundant system that does not allow users to fully disconnect. Trained monitors are stationed throughout the park to provide assistance as needed.

“Staying safe while adventuring in the trees is always our top priority,” said Lorrie Funtleyder, Boundless Adventures owner. “And this year, with the pandemic unfortunately still a fact of life, we’re again taking safety a step further with additional protocols aimed at protecting the health of our patrons and staff.”

To that end, Funtleyder said the park will be limited to 40 percent of its normal capacity, with reservations required. Patrons must also sign a waiver attesting that they have not experienced COVID-19 symptoms within the last 10 days.

Staff will be masked while harnessing guests and will be outfitted with appropriate personal protection equipment at all times, and guests will be asked to come with a mask to wear at check-in, during harnessing and de-harnessing, and any time they are on the ground or unable to maintain a six-foot distance from other guests.

These policies will be strictly enforced; those who refuse to comply will be asked to leave the park without a refund, Funtleyder said.

“We are so excited for our third season to begin in Bristol Woods Park,” Funtleyder said. “We can’t wait to see the smiling faces and hear the squeals of enthusiasm as our guests reach new heights.”

Park hours for the start of the season will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fridays (10 a.m. to 6 p.m. this week, due to the Good Friday holiday) and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, plus spring break hours from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day April 5-8. Additional hours will be added in June.

Boundless Adventures and Bristol Woods Park are located at 9800 160th Ave. (Highway MB) in the Village of Bristol.

For more information about Boundless Adventures or to make a reservation, visit https://boundlessadventures.net/ or call 262-287-0933.

See more details on this Bristol Woods Park and the entire Kenosha County Parks system at http://parks.kenoshacounty.org or www.facebook.com/kenoshacountyparks.

Eligible residents encouraged to make vaccination appointments

Kenosha County residents who are currently eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine are encouraged to contact the county vaccination call center to schedule an appointment for next week, Health Officer Dr. Jen Freiheit said today.

“We want to take care of Kenosha County residents — particularly those in the newly eligible, Tier 1c populations — as quickly as possible,” Freiheit said. “To that end, we are offering expanded call center hours so that our staff can serve the public and make sure we are getting appointments to the people who most need them.”

The temporary, expanded call center hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday. The call center number is 262-605-6799.

The Tier 1c populations, which became eligible to receive the vaccine on March 22, include those 16 or older with certain medical conditions, including moderate to severe asthma, cancer, COPD, heart conditions, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes, among others. (A full list of eligible conditions is at the end of this release.)

These individuals joined the list of those already eligible for vaccination. This includes frontline health care workers, police and fire personnel, all people 65 and older, educators and child care workers, and some public-facing essential workers including food supply chain personnel, 911 operators, and utility and communications infrastructure workers.

Restaurant chefs, servers and hosts, and all members of the clergy were also recently added to the state’s eligibility criteria.

“While we have a long way to go before we reach our ultimate herd immunity goal, we’re pleased to be able to serve people with medical conditions that present an increased rick of severe illness from COVID-19,” Freiheit said. “This comes as we continue working toward the stated national goal of eligibility for everyone age 16 or older by May 1.”

Kenosha County Public Health clinics are available for those who live, work or study in Kenosha County, Freiheit noted. Appointments are required. Clinics are held in the former Shopko building, at 5300 52nd St. in Kenosha.

Appointments for clinics next week are available only through the call center. For appointments after March 31 or for other local vaccine providers, please visit the Kenosha County COVID-19 Response Hub website at http://bit.ly/KCCOVIDHub, or click the flashing red button at the top of the homepage at https://www.kenoshacounty.org/.

Newly eligible groups:

The expansion of eligibility that began statewide on Monday, March 22, includes indviduals with the following conditions:

  • asthma (moderate to severe)
    Cancer
    Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
    Chronic kidney disease
    COPD (chronic obstructirve pulmonary disease) Cystic fibrosis
    Down syndrome' Heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
    Hypertension or high blood pressure
    Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant, blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune-weakening medicines

    Liver disease
    Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
    Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30-39 kg/m2)
    Overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2)
    Pregnancy
    Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues) n Severe obesity (BMI 40 kg/m2 or more)
    Sickle cell disease
    Type 1 or 2 diabetes mellitus
    Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)

The full, up-to-date list of populations eligible under state guidelines is available at

https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm#-individuals-with-certain-medical- conditions.

Together, we can and will slow the spread of the COVID-19 virus.