Study shows Huerfano County’s overdose death rate is the highest in Colorado

Posted at 6:14 PM, Apr 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-12 20:14:59-04

A study by the Colorado Health Institute found that Huerfano County, with 6,600 residents, had six overdose deaths in 2016.

That’s a rate of more than 150 per 100,000 people – the highest in any county across the state.

The study points to opioids as a major driver of the deaths.

The Las Animas-Huerfano Counties District Health Department has tried to combat the rise of opioids through new programs like the Opioid Prevention Project, which gives prescribers guidelines to follow before they prescribe an opioid.

But, in light of the stats, this community wish more could be done.

"It makes me sad really need to do something about it, we need to do something about it, or leaders need to take the wheel and do something about it," said resident Jann Vail.

Right now there is also a community-driven organization called "Communities That Care" or CTC,  which helps children younger than 18 access the resources they need.

The Las Animas-Huerfano Counties Health District Health Department is striving to put a dent in these numbers through continued outreach.

"My hope is that we see a decrease in deaths in the opioid deaths in the county, it’s very heartbreaking to see that we are the number one in Colorado," said Kimberly Gonzalez, the executive director at Las Animas -Huerfano Counties District Health Department.

"I hope we can provide support and some other point of prevention."

Here are other resources the Las Animas-Huerfano Counties Health District Health Department currently offers:

  • Drug take back program:  This program allows residents to drop off medication at "Take Back Bins" –  Walsenburg is in the process of getting one. Las Animas has one located in MSRH. 
  • Partners for a Drug Free Community: This program was established over two years ago under the auspices of the Third Judicial District and its Probation Department to try to deal with these serious local problems. 
  • Communities that Cares (CTC) program in both Las Animas and Huerfano Counties that is working with the 18 and under population on protective risk factors in the communities. This program works on helping prevent youth problems before they start. 
  • Opioid Prevention Project: The Las Animas-Huerfano Counties Health District Health Department is working with the Colorado Consortium on a program called Moving From What to How . This program offer practical tools for safe and effective opioid prescribing for chronic pain. 
  • Naloxone training