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ABC6: OhioHealth starts Naloxone pilot program

The opioid epidemic is a very serious problem in the United States, but more specifically in our community. For about a decade, unintentional drug overdose remains the leading cause of injury-related deaths for Ohioans, surpassing car crashes.

Paul Gabriel, MD, director of emergency medicine at OhioHealth Grant Medical Center, says the rising numbers need to stop. Grant Medical Center nurses say they see as many as five to 10 overdoses on a 12-hour shift. In a previous OhioHealth Newsroom story, we told you about the work OhioHealth is doing to fight back and keep addicts from returning to the ED.

Four OhioHealth locations including Grant Medical Center, OhioHealth Westerville Medical Campus, OhioHealth Pickerington Medical Campus and OhioHealth Marion General Hospital, are all piloting a Naloxone program in the emergency departments. The program began in March and gives addicts another chance at life.

"I've seen deaths from overdoses and basically anything we can do to save lives is the right thing," Gabriel told ABC6 reporter Maria Durant.

Before overdose patients are released at the Naloxone pilot program locations, a nurse reaches out to the patient and family about taking home a Naloxone kit. The patient and family members are given training on how to use the lifesaving drug, as well as a resource packet with links to treatment.

137 easy-to-use Naloxone kits have been given out in the Grant ED, as of November 20, 2017.

Opiate addiction is a chronic medical disease, and Gabriel believes this program is making a difference. He told Durant what he tells colleagues that may think handing out the Naloxone is contributing to the addiction.

"My point I tell them if they don't agree with me is this is the same thing like COPD,” he said. “If the person keeps smoking and comes in 5 times a month for exasperation of his COPD, do we give up on him because he won't quit? No. He's addicted to it.”

A life saved is a life saved. Gabriel says that’s what his job is, to save lives, not to judge.

To find a location or to learn more about Emergency and Trauma Care at OhioHealth, click here.