Our team at Mercy Health – Lourdes Hospital has proudly partnered with Baptist Health Paducah and the Purchase District Health Department to distribute free Narcan nasal spray to at-risk patients leaving the hospital. Narcan is prescription medicine that can help reduce the symptoms of opioid overdose and prevent death.
“I’m thankful we have this opportunity to provide this service to our community,” Alisa Fish, pharmacy director at Lourdes Hospital, shares. “The opioid epidemic has gotten worse since the pandemic and Kentucky has one the highest rates for opioid overdose.”
In fact, our ministry announced our Narcan distribution program just days before the National Center for Health Statistics released provisional data showing that opioid deaths jumped by 93,000 in 2020. The Narcan being provided to our patients comes in a two-pack, and that’s by design.
“In a lot of cases, patients may require a second dose of Narcan,” Alisa says. “Narcan is a short-acting drug. The reversal only lasts a short amount of time and an opioid overdose patient may need a second dose to get to the emergency room in time for treatment. It depends on what and how much they have taken. That’s why there are two doses in the pack – it’s there if they need it before they make it to the emergency room.”
Thanks to the HRSA Rural Community Opioid Response Program Implementation Grant, Lourdes Hospital team members can give the Narcan spray out for free to patients leaving the hospital or emergency department after an overdose. According to Alisa, this is very important.
“Even if a patient got a prescription for Narcan, the chance of them stopping to have the prescription filled, because of the cost and expense to them, is low. A lot of those patients would not fill that prescription.”
Alisa is also pleased that the Paducah, KY hospitals are working together with the health department and the Opioid Taskforce on this program.
“It’s important that we are all in this together,” she says. “We need to work together to improve access to Narcan, knowledge in the community and the availability of resources for these patients.”
Before they leave the hospital, patients receive training in the use of Narcan. Additionally, the packages they receive include educational material, a code to access a training video and information on recovery programs.
“I think this program will decrease our overdoses in Kentucky,” Alisa says. “We need to help one another, no matter what the situation. Revival gives a patient a life that they would not have otherwise. A life that could have been snuffed out can now be lived so they might enjoy children or grandchildren and see them grow up. There are endless possibilities.”
Helping more patients survive their overdose helps caregivers, too.
“Any patient death impacts their hospital care team,” Alisa shares. “With overdoses, you can see any age group. The younger the patient, the more difficult it is to process.”