PALMYRA- The opioid crisis is impacting the entire state, but has proven harder to manage in rural communities.
“We really would like to have more services available for folks so that don’t have to drive,” said Betsy Richard, a public educator for Somerset Public Health. “Because we’re a rural county transportation is a big barrier for folks. They just can’t get there.”
Somerset County has been hit particularly hard by the crisis, with 10 overdose deaths in 2018 and even more in 2019.
Officials are hosting forums to hear from community members on the topic.
“A lot of people say their concerned, but when we’re sitting at home, it’s hard to do anything about it,” said Susan Ackerman, a Somerset County resident. “The more people come together and we see people in the same mindset as us, we can get stuff done together.”
People at a forum in Palmyra Wednesday night said the emergency room and clinics are often full.
Law enforcement officers carry narcan to be prepared for overdoses.
“The only way we’re going to solve this problem is through collaboration,” said Sheriff Dale Lancaster, with the Somerset County Sheriff’s Office. “You can’t arrest your way out of it. Part of the partnership is the community.”
County officials are in the process of applying for a grant to help create resources.
“It’s a very sad situation,” Ackerman said. “But I‘m hoping if the community comes together, we can fight this battle.”
Richard said they plan to hold one more community forum, but no time or date has been set yet.