Hospitals say they're ready for possible weekend spike in heroin overdoses
Medical providers have increased their supply of a heroin antidote drug.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Area hospitals say they are ready to deal with a possible outbreak of heroin overdoses over the long Labor Day weekend.
Kentucky's Department of Public Health has issued an advisory urging hospitals to have enough staff and medication on-hand to deal with a dangerous drug emergency they hope does not happen.
A long holiday weekend often means more business for Norton Hospital's ER. But this weekend, the hospital is anticipating more than the usual sprained ankles and broken arms.
The state is warning of a possible weekend increase in overdoses caused by a batch of heroin laced with the deadly drug fentanyl.
Charge Nurse Stephanie King was working last Tuesday when Norton was hit with 12 overdoses in a matter of hours. She says the experience was overwhelming, but believes the hospital is ready for a possible repeat.
"We've reviewed our staffing. We want to make sure we have enough personnel here to handle whatever challenges come up," said King.
The new, even deadlier batch of heroin requires multiple doses of the antidote drug Nalaxone. Norton has more than 100 doses on-hand just in case.
"We're going to stock a lot of it down here, and the rest of it in the pharmacy. So if we need it, it will be available to us," said Nurse Manager John Vereb.
But this is not just an urban problem. Baptist Health Lagrange has also increased its supply of Nalaxone.
"It's taking sometimes triple the amount of reversal that we would normally see, So we've increased our supply by that amount," said Angela Sandlin, director of the pharmacy for Baptist Health Lagrange.
The head of Oldham County EMS, Todd Early, says he's concerned about possible shortages of Nalaxone, also known as Narcan.
"One of the issues that we've run into with the influx of the Narcan in the community is the supply lines. Is the medication available when we need to resupply? That's one thing we're watching very closely," said Early.
For now, emergency responders seem to have what they need to cope with this public health crisis.
"We're preparing for the worst, we're hoping for the best. We're hoping we've seen the peak of the spike," said King.
The problem is no one knows how much of the laced heroin is out there.
Hospitals may have seen the peak this week, or they may continue to be overrun with overdoses.
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