Rockford Register Star: Opioid roundtable seeks to raise awareness

U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger hosted panelists at a community forum on opioid abuse at Northern Illinois University.

ROCKFORD -- Elected officials and health leaders gathered Tuesday afternoon to hear concerns from the public regarding the growing opioid crisis across the nation and in Winnebago County.

Dozens of residents across the region attended the event hosted by U.S. Rep Adam Kinzinger, R-Channahon, at the Northern Illinois University Rockford Conference Center. Kinzinger was on a panel that consisted of Sheriff Gary Caruana; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Region 5 Director Doug O’Brien; Rosencrance Chief Medical Officer Tom Wright; John Pakiela, associate EMS medical director of Mercyhealth Rockford and medical director for REACT and Bobby Gattone, caseworker & grant writer for New Directions Sober Living in Crystal Lake.

Residents asked about opioid use, combating the problem and properly disposing of opioids. Kristin Crowley of WREX, the Register Star’s media partner, moderated the event.

“I was really impressed by the level of knowledge and questions people had about this,” Kinzinger said afterward. “If, two years ago, I had done something like this, people would not be as aware of the crisis.”

As of early July, there have been 69 overdose deaths in Winnebago County, according to the coroner’s office. Pakiela of MercyHealth said during the meeting that most of those deaths have been from either heroin, cocaine or fetanyl, which is about 100 times more potent than morphine.


The original article,with photos, can be found on the Rockford Register Star website here.