KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Overdose investigators, that’s part of what Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas is asking for to help combat the fentanyl death epidemic.
The hook is this would not be through law enforcement. Instead it would be run through the city’s health department.
The plan would use contact tracing methods, the very same which rose in the public consciousness during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ordinance would also make new reporting requirements, making medical examiners report all fatal and non-fatal fentanyl overdoses in Kansas City be reported to the health department within one day.
Lucas said, currently, their info can lag by years.
“Tracing, as we have seen in the COVID crisis, as we’ve seen with other ailments in our community for decades, it’s something that we see as vital,” Lucas said.
“We need them to engage with us. And so sensitivity is just going to be of utmost importance,” Alex Francisco, chief science officer at the KCMO Health Department, said.
Francisco said that two new investigators would engage with people close to drug overdoses, not to build a criminal case but to collect information.
The department already does similar work tracking things like tuberculosis and STDs.
“In general, I would imagine that these folks will be contacting individuals to get some of this contextual information: Were you using alone? Were you using at home? What were the circumstances that led you to use or lead you to use in general?” Francisco said.
In addition, a proposed fentanyl review board would be appointed by the mayor. That would include people from addiction treatment, emergency medical services, and beyond.
The city council will talk and potentially vote on the proposal during their meeting Thursday. Here is a link to the full text of the bill.