From 2018 through 2022, 463 Wayne County residents died from injuries.

Addressing injuries and trauma is a key point of the new Health First Indiana program, and the state’s Department of Trauma and Injury Prevention is helping the Wayne County Health Department get a handle on what might be necessary in the county. Becca Alliston, the health department’s clinical director, shared some injury-related statistics with county Board of Health members during their May 29 meeting.

Unintentional poisoning, which includes drug poisoning, was the leading cause of the injury-related deaths. The county’s 25-to-65-year-olds are dying from drug overdoses at a rate nearly two times the state average, with overdose deaths generally increasing from 2013 through 2022.

The state statistics showed 96 injury-related deaths in Wayne County during 2022. That does not reach the 112 in 2017, but is more than double the 46 from 2014.

Falls accounted for the most non-fatal injuries during 2022 at 117. That was nearly five times the 33 injuries from self-harm, which was the second most frequent cause.

Health First Indiana has increased public-health funding for counties opting into the program, and the state requires core services, which include the injuries and trauma. Counties must report how they stack up in key performance indicators. Only 86 counties opted to accept the extra funding this year, but all 92 will participate in 2025.

Alliston said the information provided by the state’s trauma department provides a starting point for the county health department to learn what’s harming Wayne County residents and to develop programming to address the issues. 

The department, for example, can now investigate who’s falling and what’s causing the falls. That could lead to balancing education and training, such as the Stepping On program.

Syphilis increase

Dr. David Jetmore, the county’s health officer, reported that Wayne County’s syphilis cases increased 44% in women and 88% in men from 2022 to 2023.

The increase reflects a state increase. Jetmore said 40% of state cases were women who were not receiving prenatal care. The state has posted guidelines to help address the increases.

Jetmore said the county should drop the case number to zero. 

“Anything above zero really isn’t acceptable,” Jetmore said.

He told board members that there have been minimal cases of respiratory illness in the county. There had not been a COVID-related death through April or May.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 5 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.