In Wednesday’s newspaper, New Britain Herald reporter Lisa Backus warned that the state medical examiner’s office has only been “provisionally” accredited by its national association. The designation is yet more fallout from the state’s budget crisis, made worse by the rising number of opioid deaths.
Deaths related to the use of the opioid fentanyl rose from 14 in 2012 to 483 in 2017. Meanwhile, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has been forced to work with a shorter staff despite facing a 70 percent spike in the number of autopsies performed over the past six years.
As Backus pointed out, New Britain is fourth in the state for the number of residents dying from a drug overdose; thankfully, Bristol has seen a decrease in the number of deaths from 35 in 2016 to 11 in the first six months of 2017. But, of course, even one is one too many.
At a House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty said, “Everywhere I go in Connecticut, I meet people whose families have lost loved ones to drug addiction. It’s an epidemic that affects families across the country regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status. ... The stakes are high, and if vital treatment centers are forced to close their doors, or if we limit access to them, people will die.”
And the burden of the medical examiner’s office will continue to increase.
This is just another example of the real cost the state’s stalemate is inflicting on every area of our lives. Maybe it’s time to lock up our representatives with the governor until they come to terms - the time for inaction is over.