This month, in Chillicothe, a new outreach effort at Adena Regional Medical Center began in an effort to further reduce drug overdose deaths in the community.
With the aid of a $7,000 grant obtained by the Ross County Health District, the hospital’s emergency department is now providing a kit with two doses of the overdose reversal drug naloxone when discharging people who have been treated for a drug overdose. The kit includes instructions on how to use naloxone and patients will also be provided pamphlets for resources such as area drug treatment and support groups.
“This is another step forward by Adena to reduce the drug overdose death rates in our region … Saving a life affected by opioid use disorder starts with naloxone after an overdose. We want to be proactive in eliminating barriers that would normally prevent drug overdose patients and their family and friends from quick access to naloxone,” said Ross County Coroner Dr. John Gabis who chairs the Heroin Partnership Project.
While other communities across the state continued to see an increase in unintentional drug overdose deaths driven by more powerful opioids, Ross County saw a decrease of 10 deaths from 41 unintentional overdose deaths in 2016 to 31 in 2017.
If the first quarter of 2018 is any indication of what’s to come, we could see another decrease in deaths. As of April 25, six drug overdose deaths had been confirmed with two others suspected compared to 10 for the first quarter of 2017. There also have been 38 percent fewer doses of naloxone administered, according to data collected from the Chillicothe Police, Ross County Sheriff’s Office, Adena, and the Chillicothe Fire Department.
Getting naloxone into the hands of those at highest risk of overdose – those who already have overdosed – is a key part of reducing deaths, which led to the Surgeon General’s recent call for more people to carry it.
The $7,000 grant purchasing the naloxone for Adena was a supplemental the Ross County Health District received from the Ohio Department of Health and Center’s for Disease control specifically to develop partnerships with emergency departments, said Melonie Oiler, the Ross County Health District’s injury prevention coordinator. The money is for one year but Oiler has applied to received the grant again.
In addition to providing the kits, last year Adena began working with the Post Overdose Response Team by providing contact information from overdose patients who agreed to a visit by the team. The team – which includes law enforcement and treatment providers – attempts to talk with those who have overdosed within a week after to provide information and encouragement to seek treatment for addiction.
Anyone can purchase naloxone from the pharmacy without a prescription. Those seeking free naloxone can contact the Ross County Health District at 740-775-1146 or call Project 4-14 at 740-600-4187 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.