Local emergency rooms, pharmacies, EMS prepare for spike in heroin overdoses

Officials warn of spike in Heroin overdoses

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Kentucky's top health officials are urging hospitals to staff up and stock up for an expected rash of emergencies.

A deadly batch of heroin laced with the drug Fentanyl has found its way into Kentucky and into the bodies of drug abusers. From the health department to the hospitals... all groups tell us they know their preparations could be the difference between life and death. 

University Hospital Nurse Manager John Vereb said, "We want to make sure we have enough staff and enough drugs that when the patients show up we can take care of them and we can reverse the effects."

Nursing staff at University Hospital met throughout the week to prepare for what state health officials are calling a public health emergency. They said this weekend the hospital will have extra staff and extra supplies. They are hoping for the best but preparing for the worst.

"We’re ready. We hope we don’t need it, but we've prepared,” said Angela Sandlin, the director of pharmacy at Baptist Health in La Grange.

In the middle of the emergency center's trauma room she showed what that preparation looks like including several different types of antidotes.

She said she's been working with the emergency room and EMS to ensure every piece of the hospital is as prepared as possible to fight this drug considered even more dangerous than heroin alone.

"It may take three times the amount of naloxone, which is the antidote or reversal agent, than it would take for us normally so prepared and aware and we're ready to face that,” Sandlin said.

But hospitals aren’t the only agencies on high alert. Area Kroger representatives said they've seen four times more naloxone moving off the shelves than just two weeks ago. All Kroger pharmacies were re-ordering the antidote before the weekend hits.

Local health departments are also responding by warning people at needle exchanges. They said they are hoping to spread the word of the poisonous drug. Metro Health Department is also scheduling additional Naloxone trainings in response to the increase in overdoses.

"We’re very aware of the situation. We believe we know what we’re facing as much as anybody can”, Sandlin said.

Now all officials agree, all they can do is their job -- trying their best to save the lives of the people of Kentuckiana.

To attend a Naloxone training, find an event near you here


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