Cuyahoga County drug lab now running 900,000 tests annually due to opioid crisis

Opioid crisis has county running more drug tests
Posted at 10:25 PM, Sep 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-09 09:44:00-04

The Cuyahoga County Adult Probation Drug Lab is now running more than 900,000 drug tests, on some 60,000 drug offenders a year.

The growing opioid crisis has equipment, and the lab staff of 11, working harder than ever before to keep pace.

Lab Manger Shannon Gray told News 5 her staff is aware testing accuracy and turnaround time is more important than ever before.

"Definitely it is a big responsibility," said Gray.  "I think all the staff here takes it very seriously, because what we do can effect someone's freedom."

Gray said the lab has made badly needed improvements to increase efficiency in dealing with growing demand.

"A lot of it was just changing the process in the way we do things, getting rid of all the paperwork," explained Gray.

"There were duplicate things that we were doing that were taking so much time, that we could eliminate all that work."

Cuyahoga County Presiding and Administrative Judge John J. Russo told News 5 what the lab does on daily basis saves lives, and keeps the drug addicted, on probation, on the road to recovery.

Russo said some drug tests can now be completed in an hour, if needed, avoiding long waits that may be critical.

"It could be a life, it could be a persons life, if we had to wait that long," said Russo.

"It gives us that instant ability to know someone is using a drug, and for the opportunity for a judge to put them into treatment, and give them an opportunity and hope in their lives."

And the work load at the lab isn't expected to get easier anytime soon, with Cuyahoga drug offenders on probation an average of 18 months to three years.