Heroin deaths focus

Published 10:26 am Friday, May 22, 2015

King’s Daughters Medical Center is now working with Ohio law enforcement in the fight against opioid overdose deaths by providing them with naloxone (Narcan), and on Thursday, there was a small press conference to announce the deal.

David Marcum from Lawrence County Drug and Major Crimes Task Force, prosecuting attorney Brigham Anderson, Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless and Kristie Whitlatch, president and CEO of King’s Daughters Medical Center spoke on the importance of the investment KDMC made and what it means to the community.

“When King’s Daughters stepped forward and decided to do this for us it was like a Godsend,” Lawless said. “Our officers are out on the street and we confront these situations and we’re usually one of the first people there and we have the chance to save someone’s life with this product.”

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According to healthy.ohio.gov, naloxone’s only function is to prevent opioid overdose deaths and has been used by emergency medical professionals for more than 40 years. It has no potential for abuse and is harmless if given to anyone who is not having an opioid overdose.

Ohio’s death rate due to unintentional drug overdoses, primarily from prescription drugs, has increased 366 percent from 2000 to 2012. In 2012, a shift began to occur in which heroin-related deaths significantly increased and leveled off the prescription-opioid-related overdose deaths.

“Drugs touch every aspect of life, from the richest to the poorest,” Lawless said. “All life has value. That’s what we’re in the business to do is save lives and if we can save a life by having this product with us, then we’re certainly grateful and willing to do that.”

KDMC has partnered with the Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office and sheriff’s office and the police departments of Ironton, Hanging Rock, Coal Grove, South Point, Chesapeake and Proctorville in the program and all will be provided with naloxone.