LANCASTER, Pa. (WHTM) – Lancaster County is turning to its biggest hospital for help.

Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health was approved Wednesday morning to do research on drug overdose deaths in the county. It’s a new initiative started by Joining Forces, an organization focusing on reducing opioid deaths.

“In January of this year we started the overdose fatality review team,” County Commissioner Josh Parsons said.

Parsons is the co-chair of Joining Forces. He says the county has done well in reducing drug deaths.

“Joining Forces has been really successful,” Parsons says. “Since 2017, we’ve cut the opioid overdose death rate in half in Lancaster County.”

Jon Lepley is the medical director for addictive medicine at LGH. He says, “While drug overdose deaths in Lancaster County declined significantly since a peak in 2017, preventable overdose deaths still occur at a rate that is twice the historic norm. Combatting this public health crisis requires a coordinated effort from health-care providers.”

While LGH will be the lead researcher for these deaths, Parsons knows this is a county-wide effort.

“We’ve wanted to include all of the healthcare facilities in the county and we’ve done that,” said Parsons. “Many of them have been part of Joining Forces but LGH obviously has been a big part of that and they continue to be.”