MAHC Announces It Will Dispense Naloxone Kits In Response To Opioid Crisis

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Pharmacist Kelly Coker, Public Health RN Doug Ironside and Emergency Dept. RN/Team Lead Kristin Cazabon. Photo courtesy of MAHC

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) has announced that it will be the first hospital in Simcoe Muskoka to dispense naloxone kits from the Emergency Departments to patients facing opioid addiction or overdoses, according to an announcement from March 25.

MAHC joined the Ontario Naloxone Program to support better access to the overdose reversal drug in response to the rise of opioid overdose cases throughout the province, including across North Simcoe and Muskoka. The program provides take-home kits for patients who are at significant risk of overdose or suffer from high-risk opiate dependencies. MAHC staff demonstrate how to administer the drug safely and educate patients and family in identifying the signs and symptoms of overdose.

“We have always administered Naloxone to patients who come to the Emergency Department for treatment during an overdose,” said Dr. John Simpson, medical director of the Emergency Department. “Now we can also support these patients at risk of re-overdose to avoid future overdose after they leave the hospital. The take-home kits buy them some time to call 9-1-1 for professional emergency medical treatment. It’s about giving them what they need to survive the next potential overdose.”

Emergency Department staff at both MAHC sites were trained by a nurse from the Substance Use and Injury Prevention Program at the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit (SMDHU) earlier this year to help MAHC support patients in avoiding future overdose.

“We are very pleased to have MAHC come onto the Ontario Naloxone Program, to ensure people leaving the hospital have the lifesaving medication necessary to respond to an opioid overdose in the community,” said Dr. Lisa Simon, associate medical officer of health with SMDHU.

MAHC dispensed a handful of kits from each site in the first six weeks of the program. Other pharmacies and SMDHU offices across the region also offer naloxone for free.

“We are glad to participate in intervention strategies that strengthen the response to opioid misuse and potential overdose for opioid-related Emergency Department visits,” said Chief Executive Officer Natalie Bubela. “The program is part of the Ontario government’s plan to make lifesaving naloxone available free of charge in hundreds of towns and cities.”

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