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Epidemic of Overdoses in Lycoming County

WILLIAMSPORT — At least 37 overdoses have been reported in Lycoming County in just the past 24 hours. That startling number is what officials call an epid...

WILLIAMSPORT -- At least 37 overdoses have been reported in Lycoming County in just the past 24 hours.

That startling number is what officials call an epidemic.

The coroner says one of those overdoses was deadly.

Doctors in Williamsport will not know for sure until tests come back, but they believe there is a potentially lethal batch of heroin in Lycoming County.

Doctors at Susquehanna Health in Williamsport typically treat one or two overdose patients a day. But over the past 24 hours, that number is significantly higher. There have been more than 36 overdoses in Lycoming County.

"Epidemic proportions for our area here," said Director of Emergency Medicine Dr. Michael Gerst. "The most I've seen in the two years that I've worked in this facility."

One of those suspected heroin overdoses was deadly. Williamsport police say a man overdosed in the morning at a home on West Edwin Street.

"35 drug deaths last year and we're on course for the same number if not higher this year," said Lycoming County Coroner Charles Kiessling.

Hospital officials tell Newswatch 16 they believe there is a potentially lethal batch of heroin going around, but they won't know for sure until they get toxicology reports back in the next few days.

Newswatch 16 spoke with Robert Lose who has been clean for about two years. He was walking on West Edwin Street in Williamsport and saw what was going on.

"I actually took an overdose and I was on life support for three and a half weeks. Thank God that I'm here. It's time to stand up against this drug addiction," said Lose.

Doctors at Susquehanna Health in Williamsport say they are fully staffed and prepared for the influx of overdose patients.

"Anybody that's suspected or afflicted with this, it's our job to take care of them and get them through this acute process," said Dr. Gerst.

If you or a loved one have used heroin in Lycoming County in the past 24 to 48 hours, doctors urge you to go to the emergency room as soon as possible.

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