WEIU-TV reports change is happening when it comes to drug overdoes and ways they can be prevent.
Drug overdoses are on the rise in Illinois, and the Effingham area is taking steps to prevent opioid related deaths. HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital is partnering with the Effingham Police Department by providing them with Narcan kits to reverse drug-related overdoses while they’re in the field. In 2015, Illinois passed a law giving easier access to an opioid overdose reversal medication called Narcan, or Naloxone. Chief Medical Officer at HSHS St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, Ryan Jennings says, the convenient access has made it possible for non-medical first responders to reverse an overdose. Health officials say it can be a matter of minutes between life and death for a person who’s experiencing an overdose. “Often times if the first responder was able to administer at the scene, by the time they come into the emergency room, they’re coming back around. They’re alert, they’re breathing on their own.” But Ryan Jennings says that isn’t always the case. “We’ve had missed opportunities, and what we’re trying to do is make sure that everything that we can possibly do to save these patients in the field is done.” Chief of Nursing at St. Anthony’s Hospital, Kelly Sager says, the hospital has been working with the Effingham Police Department for about six months to fight overdoses at the scene. The hospital has donated about 300 dollars to the police department to have Narcan kits available, and will continue to provide funds as needed. “Narcan is able to be that reversal agent that brings those things back, and it’s really quite quickly.” Sager says they’ve worked with the police department to administer Narcan. She says it’s similar to taking allergy sprays, and it works in a matter of minutes. The hospital says the medicine reverses an overdose by blocking heroin or other opioids in the brain for 30 to 90 minutes. Effingham County has handled four overdose-related deaths since 2015.