This winter, Ross Medical Education Center in Port Huron, Michigan welcomed guest speaker Julie Walding, a Registered Nurse and the Naloxone Public Health Nurse from the St. Clair County Health Department. Julie has been a nurse for over 40 years and now leads the Second Chance Naloxone Project for Region 10 which includes Genesee, Lapeer, Sanilac and St. Clair Counties. Funding is provided by Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Training and support for the program is provided by The Red Project, a non-profit organization out of Grand Rapids whose goal is to improve health, reduce risk, and prevent HIV.
The Second Chance Naloxone Program is a confidential Naloxone Rescue Kit distribution program for individuals at risk of opiate overdose. Kits and training are available to individuals at risk or those who have contact with opioid using individuals. Monthly training is provided at the St. Clair County Health Department in Port Huron on the second Monday of each month and walk-ins are welcomed. Julie also travels and provides training to groups such as hospitals, nursing homes, housing units, primary care providers, and schools on an appointment basis. Julie is passionate about providing awareness and education for the growing issue of opioid overdose. She is so dedicated to the cause she is willing to travel to homes and provide one-on-one training to those in need.
Julie explained that opioids killed more than 28,000 people in 2015. Death rates have tripled since 2014, statistically making opioid use the fastest growing drug problem in the United States. The St. Clair County Medical Examiner’s office reported 28 overdose deaths in 2012, 40 in 2013, 65 in 2014, and 48 in 2015. The statistics for 2016 have not been finalized yet. Tri-EMS reported using Narcan, the brand name for Naloxone, 218 times in 2014 and 312 times in 2015. Education and prevention along with management of this problem are tools that can be used to prevent use and harm due to addiction.
The students at Ross Medical Education Center in Port Huron were informed that Naloxone is a medication which is administered to a person during an overdose event to help prevent death. Naloxone will temporarily reverse the effects of any opioid used. It works by blocking opiate receptor sites, which reverses or prevents toxic effects of narcotic (opioid) analgesics. Opiate overdose depresses the respiratory system, putting the victim in respiratory arrest, typically causing death in 1-3 hours.
Because opioid drug use in St. Clair County has reached such heights, physicians and healthcare support staff have received training to save lives helping to curtail the community struggle with substance abuse. The goal is to get community stakeholders trained in overdose prevention and get the kits out to those that can help to prevent more deaths. Legislation is in the works to mandate mapping of specific medications prescribed to patients. The Michigan Automates Prescription System is receiving an overhaul to allow for this mandate to become a reality. In addition, the Good Samaritan Act should be in effect beginning January 4, 2017, protecting individuals who report an overdose and request medical assistance. Public Act 311-314 currently protects individuals giving Naloxone to an overdose victim. This legislation is important to the life saving measures in place. The legislation not only protects the person administering the Naloxone, it can protect the person reporting the overdose from personal prosecution for drug use.
Julie shared local resources and trained the attendees on the steps to take if they are ever in a situation to use Naloxone. After an hour of training, the students, staff, and faculty were able to receive kits by completing the application process and answering specific questions. The kits are “prescribed” to the applicant but can be used on anyone necessary. Region 10 currently has three providers that supply the kits located in the Port Huron, Waterford, and Flint areas. Baseline data is being gathered and will be monitored over time to measure the effectiveness of this program.
For more information contact Julie Walding at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 810-987-5300 ext. 1498.