In collaboration with the Opioid and Substance Use Task Force, the Fairfax County Health Department (FCHD) has created a new public-facing dashboard that will inform residents of trends in opioid overdoses and overdose deaths in the Fairfax Health District.
“The goal of the dashboard is to ensure that Fairfax County residents understand the threat that opioid drugs pose in our community and recognize that overdoses and overdose deaths affect a wide range of ages, people of both sexes, and all racial and ethnic groups,” said Dr. Benjamin Schwartz, Director of Epidemiology & Population Health. “We want the public to be aware of overdose trends, which reflect the impacts of social factors, the types and availability of drugs, and the effect of mitigation measures including law enforcement, treatment, and harm reduction measures,” he said.
Information on the dashboard originates from two primary sources. The first is the Electronic Surveillance System for the Early Notification of Community-based Epidemics (ESSENCE). The ESSENCE system, which is managed by the Virginia Department of Health, identifies overdoses seen at emergency rooms and urgent care centers in the Fairfax Health District based on the chief complaints of patients, and the diagnoses given by healthcare providers at the end of the visit.
The second source of information is the Virginia Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). Every death that occurs in the Commonwealth of Virginia that is deemed “suspicious, unexpected and sudden” is investigated by the OCME. The Medical Examiner posts information on drug overdose-related deaths on their website.
The dashboard will be updated every month during the first week of the month. Annotations on the dashboard will indicate when the last update to the dashboard occurred.
Learn more about the opioid epidemic and how the Fairfax County Government and its community partners are working to end it by visiting the Opioid and Substance Use Task Force webpage.