Opioid deaths across Ontario are on the increase and Hastings and Prince Edward counties are recording some of those deaths.
Last year, there were 976 opioid-related deaths across Ontario, nine of those were in the two counties. A tenth death is still under review. The year before, in 2016, a total of 12 opioid-related deaths were reported in the counties.
The provincial Ministry of Heath and Long Term Care provided extra funding last year to allow the boards of health to respond to local issues and concerns around this crisis.
The work has three stages: local opioid response, Naloxone distribution and training, and opioid overdose early warning and surveillance.
Hastings Prince Edward Public Health Program Manager Stephanie McFaul told the Hastings Prince Edward Board of Heath Wednesday that the health unit is undertaking a study, reaching out to drug users and service providers. This will involve data collection and analysis.
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Mcfaul says “any death is really too many” and they want to work together to get the numbers down, related to opioid deaths.
In the opioid overdose prevention program, the health unit has distributed more than 325 Naloxone kits since 2016, and provided training service to more than 120 community and social service organizations. Naloxone is as temporary overdose antidote.
The Naloxone kits are distributed to police and fire services, hospital emergency departments, St. John’s Ambulance, agencies that work with people at risk of overdose, and drug users themselves.
McFaul pointed out that when people are using the kit they should also call 911 as a measure of safety.
A report on the opioid study is expected in the fall.