JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A growing opioid epidemic is putting a huge strain on the Duval County morgue.
“No, never; I have been here since 1991 - I have never heard anything like this at all,” says Raymond Pomm, Vice President of Medical Services at River Region.
That was the reaction when we told Raymond Pomm the Duval County morgue is overcrowded. The main reason? People are dying from what staffers think is heroin. He says dealers are cutting the drug with fentanyl.
"They use less of their heroin. It’s cheaper," he explains. "They put in the fentanyl, it's more potent, people die and then we are back to the business model of people being more attracted to it."
The Medical Examiner, Dr. Valarie Roa spoke with WJCT's First Coast Connect about the opioid issue.
She says 544 people overdosed in Jacksonville last year and there’s no sign of it slowing down.
Pomm says a lot is involved in fighting the issue. He says the need is greater than the resources.
“There are waiting lists, we have limited funding, there are only so many beds and slots available,” he says.
Pomm says he believes there is a need for those on the front lines to be better trained.
"All the people out there on the front lines who are seeing these people on a regular basis before they get to us," he says. "That’s not happening and no one is talking about it."
If you or someone you know needs help you can call River Region at (904) 899-6300 or visit their website at www.rrhs.org.