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No Amount of Money Can Restore Families and Institutions that Were Upended by Prescription Painkillers, Heroin
The tentative settlement involving the opioid crisis and the maker of OxyContin could mean that thousands of local governments will one day be paid back for some of the costs of responding to the epidemic families.
But for public officials in Akron, no amount of money will restore the families and institutions that were upended by prescription painkillers, heroin and fentanyl.
“The overwhelming sense of hopelessness that took over this community in 2016, you can’t monetize that,” former Assistant Summit County Prosecutor Greta Johnson told lawyers in a deposition in January. “Every single day the newspaper was reporting on the overdose death rates. You could not go into a community setting where there were not weeping mothers talking about their children.”
OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma struck a proposed deal Wednesday with about half the states and thousands of local governments over its role in the crisis. But criticism by several state attorneys general clouded prospects for an end to litigation against the company and the family that owns it.
Some people in Akron say the once-proud rubber capital of the world will never be the same. Hundreds of overdose deaths shattered families, orphaned children, exhausted first responders and drained government resources. At one point, city officials needed a mobile morgue to house all the corpses.
Ohio’s fifth-largest city, home to NBA legend LeBron James, and surrounding Summit County, population 540,000, were scheduled to be the first of some 2,000 governments scheduled to go to trial against drugmakers next month. Local officials sought damages from the manufacturers they hold responsible.
Overdose deaths — which hit 340, or nearly one a day, in 2016 — took a toll on the county medical examiner’s budget and her staff. At the height of the scourge, they often had to perform two or more drug-related autopsies in an average day.
Dr. Lisa Kohler, the county’s chief medical examiner, recalled “the mental stress of dealing with repeated cases of having multiple deaths in the same families over a period of weeks to months.”
The calls about overdose deaths were constant, and “it just felt like it was never going to stop,” Kohler said.
The need for the mobile morgue laid bare the devastating extent of the crisis. The trailers were originally intended for a mass-fatality event, such as a natural disaster, plane crash or terrorist attack.
Akron Fire Chief Clarence Tucker said it sometimes felt as if his community was under attack.
“We handle 45,000 calls a year, and it just kept climbing and climbing,” he said. The fire department had to accelerate maintenance schedules on vehicles, mobilize off-duty paramedics and cope with staff burnout.
“You can get a call someone has overdosed and you get there, you can bring them back with Narcan. Then you’ll go to the same address in the afternoon,” Tucker said. “Or you go to that address in the morning and the two parents have overdosed and there’s a child there. It’s just horrible. It really is.”
Summit County’s estimated payout from the $12 billion tentative Purdue settlement was estimated at $13.2 million. Akron would receive about $3.7 million. Barberton, the county’s second-largest city, would receive $492,000.
Those dollars are intended to compensate for the many financial effects of opioids, including not only the demands on fire, police and medical services, but the crowded jails, the bulging foster-care system, the bursting drug-court dockets, the overloaded addiction programs and the inundated emergency rooms.
Summit County Common Pleas Judge Joy Malek Oldfield sees about 50 felony offenders in her drug court every Monday morning. It’s one of two drug-court dockets totaling 80 to 100 people, about double the number before the crisis.
“We’re nearing capacity for both dockets, and most of them are opiate-dependent,” Oldfield said.
In the past, most drug offenders used crack cocaine or marijuana, and “the treatment was tailored to those users,” Oldfield said. “If someone had a bad day and relapsed, they didn’t die.” But opioid addiction requires residential treatment, the judge said.
By October 2017, the opioid outlook was so bad that County Executive Ilene Shapiro declared an emergency, noting in her proclamation that “local response efforts have been exhausted and local resources in Summit County have been overwhelmed, and capabilities have been exceeded.” That year, the county saw another 269 overdose deaths.
For police officers, the crisis meant a slew of extra duties beyond fighting crime, said Barberton Police Chief Vincent Morber.
“They’ve had to be everything. Not just law enforcers, but social workers and drug counselors, trying to hook everybody up with resources,” Morber said. “These poor young officers have done more death notifications in their short time span in 10 years than I have done my whole career.”
Thomas Heitic, chef and general manager of the Green Diamond Grille and Pub, said he hoped the settlement would offer more money for addiction counseling.
“Any of this money that goes towards awareness to me is a joke. We’re all aware of what’s going on. Our medical examiner had to bring in refrigerated trucks because the bodies were piling up. We’re constantly aware of this problem. We need to focus, use that money to focus on treatment.” (VOA)
The Centre will launch a pilot project on the use of indigenously manufactured drones for delivering medicines in the undulating landscape of Jammu and surrounding areas from Saturday with a focus on vaccines delivery initially. "This is going to be a pilot project for the area. The drone is developed and manufactured entirely by our scientists," Union Minister for Science & Technology, Dr Jitendra Singh told mediapersons. Singh said he himself will be launching the project at Jammu.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL), a constituent of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), an autonomous Society that is headed by the Prime Minister. For now, the delivery would be limited to Covid vaccines and once successful, it would be expanded to be used for regular delivery of medicines in the remote, hilly areas.
The drone is developed by the scientists at Bengaluru's National Aerospace Laboratories (NAL). | Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash
Jammu and surrounding areas are sensitive in terms of the strategic importance. Some months ago, there was an attack on an Army installation using drones. Will the 'drones for vaccines' be permitted in such a case? Allaying fears, a top official from the Ministry of S&T said, "The drones would be deployed by authorised agencies such as hospitals, not anybody can use it, nor would any random person be permitted to use it."
NAL has called the drone as 'Octacopter' and it can fly at an operational altitude of 500 m AGL and at maximum flying speed of 36 kmph. It can be used for a variety of BVLOS applications for last mile delivery like medicines, vaccines, food, postal packets, Human organs (such as heart for heart transplantation) etc. NAL Octacopter is integrated with a powerful on-board embedded computer and latest generation sensors for versatile applications like agricultural pesticide spraying, crop monitoring, mining survey, magnetic geo survey mapping etc., S&T officials had said. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Jammu, Vaccines, Medicines, Deliver, Drones, Centre
Bollywood actor Abhishek Bachchan shares how he feels when people compare him with his father Amitabh Bachchan on the singing reality show 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa'. He also requests contestant Rajshree Bag to sing a track 'Bahon Mein Chale Aao' featuring his mother Jaya Bachchan.
Abhishek said after looking at the performance of Rajshree, who is often compared with Lata Mangeshkar on the show, that she reminds him of being compared with his father. "Rajshree, whenever I have got the chance to watch the show, I've seen people compare you to Lata didi. It actually reminded me about how people compare me with my father and ask me how I feel about it."
According to him Amitabh Bachchan is a great actor in the industry and this is what he says to everyone making these comparisons. "My answer to them is that there's no greater actor in this film industry than Amitabh Bachchan and if I'm being compared to him, I am sure I must have done something good."
"Similarly, your voice has a different kind of magic like Lata ji and that's why people are comparing your voice with her. I feel you should always take this as a compliment," he concluded. 'Sa Re Ga Ma Pa' airs on Saturday and Sunday on Zee TV. (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: Abhishek Bachchan, Amitabh Bachchan, reality show, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa, Rajshree Bag
Winters in India have always beckoned for that hot, steaming bowl of tomato and pepper rasam or the mellow, millet based Raab. Certain dishes like sarson ka saag, undhiyu, nimona pulao are winter specialites in the country. Seasonal food has always been an Indian speciality -- we switch our choice in fruits, vegetables, sometimes even grains with the onset of different season. The preference of using specific ingredients during certain climates is visible in our sweets as well. It's common to find local and traditional delicacies made of jaggery, instead of sugar during the winters. Case in point -- the Nolen Gur Rasgulla, a speciality made in Odisha and West Bengal between November to February.
Celebrity chef, Sanjeev Kapoor, strongly advocates this need of eating seasonal produce. He says, "The beauty of our food is in our seasonal usage of fruits and vegetables. If you realise, Gajar ka halwa is made aplenty during winters as this is the season when beautiful red carrots hit the market or mango pickle is made during summer, thanks to its availability. Despite people and sometimes, even me, suggesting that we should eat fresh as well as seasonal fruits and vegetables, we do not know what chemicals are sprayed on them to keep them safe while they are growing. When this produce hits the market, there isn't a certifying agency like the FSSAI that will help people understand what vegetables and fruits are free of pesticides and germs and which ones don't. Hence, the onus lies on us to make them safe for consumption. ITC's Nimwash is a good solution."
When it comes to winters, the Chef recommends eating these fruit and vegetables:
* Purple Mogri -- Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country. But you can spot them during the winters in local markets in northern India where women pick them up to make raitas, curries and stir fries. Rich in magnesium, calcium and copper, the vegetable is known to aid people from digestive problems.
Mogri or Radish pods are not a common sight throughout the country, but you can spot them during the winters | Pixabay
* Sweet Potato -- A re-discovered favourite, Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. With its diverse addition in burgers, chips and even chat, the root vegetable is filled with nutrients such as fibres and vitamins.
Sweet potatoes have created a space for itself in the millennial kitchen. | Wikimedia Commons
* Avarekalu -- Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. Bangalore is famed for its Averakalu mela during the winter months, where you can find these beans in dosas, Pani puri and even Jalebis! Thronged by crowds from all over the city, the food fest is a gourmand's delight.
Called Hyacinth beans in English, Avarekalu is a winter speciality in the south that is added to sambhar, saagu, rotis, etc. | Wikimedia Commons
* Amla -- The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. High in Vitamin C, it is known to be immunity building and extremely beneficial for the skin and hair. There are multiple ways to eat Amla -- it is pickled, made into a fruit preserve called as Murraba or even eaten by sprinkling salt over it.
The Indian gooseberry is a common winter fruit found through the country. | Pixabay
(Article originally published on IANSlife) (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: winter, Sanjeev Kapoor, chef, Indian gooseberry, Sweet Potato, Radish pods