Heroin overdose treatment kits to be provided to patients at 3 Kentucky hospitals

01/06/2015 08:27 PM

FRANKFORT — Three Kentucky hospitals with the highest rates of heroin overdose deaths will soon be provided with heroin overdose reversal kits in an effort to save lives.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Attorney General Jack Conway and First Lady Jane Beshear, announced Tuesday in Frankfort that $105,000 will be provided by the Substance Treatment Advisory Committee (SATAC), created by Gov. Beshear by executive order, to purchase approximately 2,000 Naloxone Rescue kits for the University of Louisville Hospital, University of Kentucky Hospital and the St. Elizabeth Hospital system in Northern Kentucky.

The funds are part of $32 million in settlement funds that Attorney General Jack Conway secured from two pharmaceutical companies. The judge required the funds to be used to expand drug treatment in Kentucky.

“The kits contain the drug Naloxone, also known as Narcan, which immediately reverses the effects of a heroin overdose,” Gov. Beshear said.

SATAC hopes to expand the program to 17 more Kentucky hospitals in the future.

The three pilot hospitals will purchase the kits within the next 30 days and then get reimbursed with the SATAC funds.

“What we’re talking about is saving lives,” Beshear said. “We can make all of the political arguments in the world but the bottom line is this is one way that we can save lives.”

Conway says that the use of heroin in on the increase in Kentucky.

“It’s filling our jails, our courts, our treatment centers,” said Conway. “It’s killing Kentuckians.”

Earlier in the day, approximately 100 people, many who’ve had family members affected by heroin overdoses, traveled to Frankfort as part of a N.KY Hates Heroin March on Frankfort.

The group met with legislators and heard from Gov. Beshear as they lobbied for meaningful legislation in 2015 to attack heroin abuse.

“It was about bringing hope and change to the citizens of this state,” said event organizer Jessica Padgett. “We wanted to let our legislators know that we’re gravely disappointed with their lack of action last year and we really hope they take us into consideration this year when they go and vote on these heroin bills.”

Charlotte Wethington, whose son Casey died of a heroin overdose in 2002, took part in the march.

Wethington was responsible for Casey’s Law, which became law in 2004. The act provides a means of intervening with someone who is unable to recognize his or her need for treatment because of their impairment. This law allows parents, relatives and/or friends to petition the court for treatment on behalf of the substance abuse-impaired person.

Wethington says the time is now for meaningful legislation to combat heroin addiction.

“We have an urgency of now,” Wethington said. “We are continuing to lose loved ones every day and we know there are things that we can do and not to do them is unconscionable.”

In 2013, 230 Kentuckians died from heroin overdoses. The 2014 numbers are not currently available, but officials do expect an increase in the number of heroin overdose fatalities.


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