Clinton Co. set to get $2 million in settlement payments from opioid lawsuit

Clinton Co. set to get two million dollars in settlement payments from opioid lawsuit
Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 11:35 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 26, 2023 at 11:38 PM CDT
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CLINTON, Iowa (KWQC) - As part of a multi-state lawsuit against opioid manufacturers and distributors, the state of Iowa is eligible to get up to 345 million dollars in settlement payments. Clinton County will receive a total of about two million dollars in settlement payments through 2038.

According to MercyOne hospital in Clinton, opioid-related emergency room visits have jumped from less than two patients per month in 2019, to about five every month, as of August 2023.

County supervisors have been holding hearings to get public input on how to spend the money. At Tuesday evening’s hearing in De Witt, community leaders and police officers gathered to talk about strategies regarding opioid prevention, treatment and recovery.

Kristin Huisenga was one of those in attendance. She is the executive director of the nonprofit named Clinton Substance Abuse Council (CSAC.) Among the discussions, community leaders spoke about starting prevention in elementary schools.

“We know that people that have a problem with addiction later in life, most of them start before the age of 18,” said Huisenga, “so we think it’s so important to start early and never have to have people go down the path of addiction, that would obviously be our priority.”

Treatment and recovery were also at the top of the agenda on Tuesday. Community leaders pointed to a Clinton CRUSH+ survey completed last April that showed most respondents believed their biggest obstacles to recovery were “lack of recovery resources and lack of safe location to gather and get support.”

According to county supervisors, they received their first settlement payment late last year and have already collected over 200 thousand dollars. The money will be put into a savings account that will earn interest over time. There is currently no timetable set to spend the money and supervisors say they will continue gathering input from the public before they spend money from the settlement fund.

There is no restriction on how the county can spend the money other than it must be spent on “opioid abatement activities.”