Heroin epidemic in Morgan County causing coroner’s office to run out of money for autopsies

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MORGAN COUNTY, Ind. – There is a grim new reality in Morgan County. The heroin epidemic that is costing lives is also severely impacting city's services. Now, the Morgan County coroner says the epidemic is causing her office to run out of cash for autopsies.

“You want to budget the money the best that you can for your office and I’m trying to be fiscally responsible. But, when we have an overdose, we do not have a choice but to do an autopsy,” said Morgan County Coroner Annette Rohlman.

Demand for the coroner is on the increase, just like the recent spike in heroin overdose deaths. Now, the coroner’s office is running out of money to pay for their services.

“My budget allows for 38 autopsies,” said Rohlman.

The county pays for all autopsies, which cost about $1,500 each. This year, the council gave the coroner’s office $60,000 to pay for autopsies. That money is almost gone.

“I’m already down under $10,000 and we are in September. So, I know without a doubt that I’m going to have to go back for additional funding this year,” said Rohlman.

So far this year, 13 people have died from drug overdoses in Morgan County. Officials believe the spike in overdoses is because dealers are mixing heroin with lethal amounts of an elephant tranquilizer called Carfentanil. It is more potent than Fentanyl, which we have already seen mixed with heroin has deadly consequences in central Indiana. Police say the drug is 10,000 times more potent than Morphine.

“Our numbers are going to go through the roof with this Carfentanil. It is going to be here in the county absolutely. It is just a matter of time,” says Rohlman.

Along with the need for money, is a need for space. The county is trying to keep up with the epidemic, investing nearly $200,000 to expand the coroner’s office and add a freestanding morgue, giving them more space for victims of heroin overdose as they brace for more overdoses.