The Purchase District Health Department is partnering with Baptist Health Paducah and Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital to distribute Narcan to “at-risk patients,” as it can help reverse the effects of opioids and save lives.
Narcan nasal spray is described as a prescription medication that’s used to treat a known or suspected opioid overdose, where there’s “signs of breathing problems and severe sleepiness or not being able to respond,” according to narcan.com.
A news release announced Thursday that the Paducah hospitals are giving Narcan out for free to patients, who are leaving the hospital or emergency department following an overdose. They receive two doses and education about using the nasal spray and reducing overdose risk. The two Narcan doses are to have one for the patient and one for a close friend or family member.
Kent Koster, public health director of Purchase District Health Department, told The Sun it’s “important to save lives.” The health department serves McCracken, Ballard, Carlisle, Hickman and Fulton counties.
“Utilizing substances that affect your health is, first of all, not a good thing, but in order to address the issue, we’ve stepped up to the plate and provided Narcan to our partners in our community, as well as making it available at various sites,” he said.
Koster said if an overdose situation with someone occurs, the Narcan could provide a “very quick reversal” of the harmful effects of using opioids.
Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital received 300 doses of Narcan and Baptist Health Paducah received 200 doses. They also have access to more Narcan as needed. The hospitals are two of the health department’s partners.
“We’ve partnered also with the (McCracken County Public Library) and we’re also going to be introducing that into our health departments, beginning with three of our counties — three of our five counties, and that has not gone into effect yet,” Koster said.
The Narcan distribution funding is provided by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Rural Communities Opioid Response Implementation grant, Koster said. HRSA is an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The grant is for $1 million and the grant period is from Sept. 1, 2020 through Aug. 31, 2023.
The grant supports the Purchase Area Health Connections’ Opioid Taskforce, which is “addressing the opioid epidemic by focusing on prevention, treatment and recovery programming.” Kentucky has had one of the highest fatal overdose rates during the opioid epidemic, according to the news release.
Laura Madison, director of pharmacy for Baptist Health Paducah, was excited about the partnership, and noted to The Sun that one of the easier things the community can do to help is to destroy leftover opioid medication.
Meanwhile, Leigh Ann Ballegeer, director of community health at Mercy Health-Lourdes Hospital, said Narcan is a “life-saving intervention,” and it’s exciting to get it into the hands of people who need it the most.
“The goal of the grant is to make it more readily available in the community, but really, the partnership with both hospitals is important because that’s really where you’re going to hit the population that needs it the most,” Ballegeer said.
“So, it just shows our commitment to valuing people’s lives and knowing that there’s something out there that could potentially help save their life if they need it, and we’re providing that to them for free, as they’re leaving the hospital. That’s pretty exciting.”