BUREY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) Intermountain Cassia Regional Hospital handed out close to 70 naloxone kits at the Health and Safety Expo in May, according to Cassia Regional Hospital Administrator Ben Smalley.
A vial of naloxone, medicine used to combat the effects of opioid overdose (KMVT/KSVT)
"A family was very appreciative because they were worried that their mother who had had troubles with drug addictions in the past, was worried she might overdose in the future," Smalley said.
The naloxone kits handed out at the expo are used to reverse the effects of overdose. Residents that attended and obtained a naloxone kit were able to learn from hospital officials how to use them and receive a pack containing a vial of medicine, syringes to apply the medicine, as well as a detailed step-by-step instruction sheet for how to use the kit in an emergency. While the medicine isn't new according to the Director of Pharmacy at Cassia Regional Trevor Dschaak, handing out the free kits in the community is.
"This is kind of a rescue medication for opioid overdose," Dschaak said. "It's not really new but I think just getting the info out."
Being able to distribute the kits out was the culmination of efforts between Hospital Administrator Smalley, his colleagues and even Idaho legislators. Smalley said the work included conversations with the Board of Pharmacy to make sure they could properly give out the naloxone kits free for distribution, and he has since accepted an invitation to join Idaho Gov. Brad Little's opioid Taskforce.
"They invited me to be a part of that," Smalley said. "To be able to find recommendations and what we can do to combat that issue, which is definitely a problem."
According to Intermountain Health Care, 10 people die from opioid overdose in Idaho every month. That trend also appears to be increasing. The number of drug overdose deaths reporting opioids among Idaho residents increased more than 50 percent from 2014 to 2018, according to Bureau of Vital Records and Health Statistics; Division of Public Health. Paramedic at Cassia Region Maggie Lancaster, said they often receive calls related to opioid overdoses but that it's always due to illegal drug use. Sometimes someone like a family member recovering from a common surgery can be the subject of an opioid overdose.
“We have regular calls on this, and yes, I have," Lancaster said. "It’s not always because of an illegal ingestion.”
That's one of the reasons it's important for people to not be hesitant in reaching out for a kit, Lancaster said.
"It's OK to have this in your home. And this is nothing to be embarrassed about," she said.
As for if residents are interested in acquiring a naloxone kit or being trained in how to use them, Smalley and Dschaak said they are available at Cassia Regional.
"This is available to everyone who wants or needs it," Dschaak said.
For anyone who wants to be in a position to potentially save lives.
"Being a position to save someone's life," Smalley said. "It doesn't get better than that."
For more information or to contact Cassia Regional, visit here.