Grand River Hospital to send naloxone kits home with overdose patients
Grand River Hospital has 100 rescue naloxone kits
A new partnership between the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council and Grand River Hospital (GRH) will see the hospital sending naloxone kits home with patients who have had, or are at risk of having, an opioid overdose.
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"We are trying to identify people who are not only at risk from [recreational] behaviours but also people who have access to a large amounts of opioid medication by prescription," said Dr. Rupinder Sahsi, an emergency physician at GRH and St.Mary's Hospital.
- People who have been on long-term pain control prescription.
- People whose prescription has changed and may put them at higher risk of exposure to an overdose.
- Those who may have family members, like children, that could accidently take the medication.
Naloxone has been established as an opioid antidote and "counteracts the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, methadone and others," the release said.
However, Sashi cautions, if an overdose is suspected people must still call 911. Naloxone is only effective for a short period of time, and opioids stay in a person's system longer than Naloxone.
In the works for over a year
Sahsi has been working with Michael Parkinson from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council for more than a year to launch this pilot project.
"We discussed whether or not the narcan programs that are available out of public health might also be extended to the people we see in our emergency rooms," Sahsi said.
The Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network paid for the 100 rescue kits needed to get the pilot project off the ground and it will run as long as there are kits available.
Currently, opioid overdoses are the third leading cause of acute death in Ontario, killing more than 700 people in 2015.
In April, the council alongside more than 200 Ontario experts and stakeholders sent a letter to the Ministry of Health, warning that Ontario isn't prepared for the amount of bootleg fentanyl and other toxic opioid that has been circulating.
So far, there has been no response, Parkinson said in a message to CBC News.
With files from the CBC's Carmen Ponciano