By Kevin Kelley
Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner Thomas Gilson will discuss the region’s growing heroin problem at District 1 County Councilman Dave Greenspan’s first town hall meeting of 2013.
The public meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 31, will take place in the community room of the Bay Village Police Department, located at 28000 Wolf Road.
The number of heroin-related deaths in Cuyahoga County was three times higher in 2012 than in the previous year, Greenspan said. The medical examiner reported to the County Council on the problem in November, and the county government has formed a task force to deal with the issue.
Gilson told West Life that the county is experiencing a dramatic rise in the number of heroin deaths.
“Since 2007, the number of heroin deaths has increased over four-fold – from 40 deaths in 2007 to a projected total over 160 for 2012,” Gilson said. “With this rise we have seen an increasing number of deaths in suburban communities – a higher percentage of younger individuals and women.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald appointed Gilson medical examiner in June 2011. The position replaces the elected post of county coroner.
Gilson previously served as deputy chief medical examiner for the state of Connecticut and as chief medical examiner for the state of Rhode Island. He also worked for seven years in the medical examiner’s office of New York City.
In addition to the Jan. 31 event, Greenspan announced four other town hall meetings for the rest of 2013.
Greenspan, who has held more than 17 town hall meetings since taking office in 2011, said he believes the format offers a beneficial means of communicating information between constituents and elected officials. “I found them to serve a very important role in understanding the issues facing our community, as well as sharing the role and mission of county government,” the Westlake Republican said.
Greenspan’s town hall meetings typically feature a county official or employee who discusses a particular aspect of county government. The topic and speaker are announced two weeks before the meeting to keep them as topical as possible, Greenspan said.
Below are the scheduled dates of Greenspan’s other town hall meetings:
Fairview Park City Hall
20777 Lorain Road
North Olmsted Public Library
27403 Lorain Road
Rocky River Public Library
1600 Hampton Road
Cuyahoga Community College
31001 Clemens Road