Coroner’s office way behind times

February 9, 2014

Last week, Greene County Coroner Greg Rohanna provided us a rather generic overview of drug-related deaths in Greene during the last year.

We say generic because Rohanna was unable to provide specifics as to how many individuals died as a result of drug overdoses. He did say, and we don’t believe we caught him off guard, that there was no significant increase in drug overdose deaths in 2013, compared to 2012.

But the specific number of deaths and the type of drugs that contributed to the deaths were unavailable.

It is not that this information does not exist; it does, but in a Model-T Ford kind of way.

Every case investigated by the coroner during any given year is documented in a report complete with a death certificate. These reports, as we understand, are delivered to the county’s prothonotary’s office in boxes, and they are then put in storage.

When pressed about actual statistical information on drug deaths, Rohanna commented the county does not have the software to generate up-to-date monthly or annual reports.

Granted, the information is available, but this is the 21st century and the exploding age of technology. No one should have to dig through boxes and examine each folder to ascertain whether the numbers of Greene County residents dying from drug overdoses is rising, and whether the use of heroin is exponentially connected with those deaths.

Let’s make it clear. We are not looking for the names of those who met their untimely death. Just the numbers, please.

Rohanna was able to say prescription medication overdoses, combined with alcohol, are perhaps just as prevalent as deaths from heroin.

We don’t doubt Rohanna is following the protocol that is available to him, but he and the public would be better served if he had this software technology available to him.

It’s time the board of commissioners consider such a software purchase, and we hope Rohanna would advocate strongly for it.

Information on drug overdose deaths, cancer death trends, heart disease and even suicides could be obtained by a few keystrokes on a computer. There should be no need to have to dig through piles of reports housed in boxes in another row office.



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