Jennifer Vanderschaeghe

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe

Overdose kit availability expanding across region

Naloxone kits to reverse opiod overdoses will be available across Central Alberta in January.

Naloxone kits to reverse opiod overdoses will be available across Central Alberta in January.

Since July, Central Alberta AIDS Network, which is changing its name to Turning Point, has so far only been able to distribute kits in Red Deer in response to the rise in fentanyl overdoses. In the first nine months of 2015, fentanyl-related deaths in Alberta stood at 213 and included 29 in Central Alberta.

Jennifer Vanderschaeghe, Turning Point executive director, said an increase in funding from the province will double the amount of time staff can dedicate to training people to use naloxone and distribute kits. Currently staff can only spent the equivalent of one day per week on the naloxone program.

“This means we’ll have a day in Red Deer and a day in the rural area from a staffing perspective,” said Vanderschaeghe on Monday.

Funding for travel will also be available for staff, she said.

Turning Point is one of eight agencies across Alberta distributing free naloxone kits as part of a one-year pilot program funded by Alberta Health.

As of early December, agencies had given out 707 kits, and 51 lives have been saved. As of Friday, 123 kits had been given out in Red Deer, with 30 lives saved.

Naloxone is injected intramuscularly and keeps people breathing until paramedics arrive. It’s possible for a person to lapse into an overdose again once naloxone wears off so medical attention is required.

Last week, the province announced it would boost naloxone availability by allowing registered nurses to prescribe, administer and distribute it. Nurses could not prescribe the drug before. Paramedics, who could only administer naloxone, will be allowed to distribute it. Emergency medical technicians and emergency medical responders will also be able to administer and distribute naloxone.

Health Canada is reported to be looking at making naloxone available at pharmacies without a prescription by mid-2016.

Vanderschaeghe said having naloxone available over the counter will help occasional or recreational users, but it won’t assist Turning Point clients.

Fentanyl is about 100 times stronger than morphine, heroin, or oxycodone. A very small amount can be deadly and fentanyl has been showing up unexpectedly in other street drugs.

She said the use of fentanyl to increase the potency of street drugs is not something that is going to stop.

“Now that we have so many people overdosing, to some degree those overdoses market fentanyl as being good,” she said.

Drew Barnes, Wildrose health critic, said the NDP has to follow through with its plans to expand the naloxone program by including more health care workers.

The province should also redirect more money towards detox and addiction services, and restore funding to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Team (ALERT).

“Let’s combat the illegal fentanyl and let’s make sure the education around the prescribed fentanyl is as wide as possible. I understand in Alberta we prescribe 30 per cent more opiates than other provinces and the amount of fentanyl prescriptions has doubled in the last six years,” Barnes said.

Wildrose have proposed a patch for patch system for fentanyl, similar to legislation in Ontario, where those with a prescription must turn in old fentanyl patches to get new patches to curb abuse.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw says the greater lag time between first and second doses will allow more Albertans to be effectively vaccinated sooner. (File photo)
Alberta extends time between vaccine doses means more people to get shot sooner

National Advisory Committee on Immunization says doses can be to up to four months apart

People watch the sun set in the Red Sea port city of Jiddah, Saudi Arabia, Monday, Jan. 18, 2021. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
OPEC cartel, allies face decision on increasing oil output

OPEC Plus made deep cuts in output in 2020 to stave off a collapse in prices

The Twitter Canada office in Toronto is shown in this undated handout photo. Twitter Inc. will be bulking up on Canadian talent this year with a hiring spree meant to add dozens of engineers in the country to its staff. The San Francisco, Calif.-based social media giant said Thursday that it plans to form its first Canadian engineering hub with at least 24 new workers it will soon hire. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Twitter Canada
Twitter to launch engineering hub in Canada with dozens of hires this year

Twitter says technical talent has been evolving in the Canada recently

Jim Lowes, a living kidney donor who was inspired by Humboldt Broncos bus crash victim Logan Boulet, is photographed at his home in Burlington, Ont., on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021. Green Shirt Day, April 7, was started after the crash that killed 16 people and coincides with the anniversary of Logan Boulet’s death. Boulet’s family donated his organs after the crash. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Three years after Broncos bus crash, Logan Boulet still inspiring organ donation

Nearly 147,000 Canadians registered to be donors in two months

FILE - In this Feb. 23, 2021, file photo, a vehicle rests on its side after a rollover accident involving golfer Tiger Woods in the Rancho Palos Verdes suburb of Los Angeles. Detectives are looking at data from the so-called “black box” of Tiger Woods’ SUV to get a clearer picture of what occurred during the Southern California rollover crash last week that seriously injured the golf star, authorities said Wednesday, March 3. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
Detectives look at SUV’s ‘black box’ from Tiger Woods crash

California law allows law enforcement to seek search warrants for data recorders

FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2019 file photo, Alex Kurtzman, from left, Heather Kadin, Anson Mount, Sonequa Martin-Green and Ethan Peck participate in the “Star Trek: Discovery” show panel during the CBS All Access presentation at the Television Critics Association Winter Press Tour at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif. Paramount+ debuts Thursday, March 4, 2021 as the latest — and last — streaming option from a major media company, this time from ViacomCBS. The company hopes its smorgasbord of offerings — live sports and news, reboots of its properties like “Frasier” and “Rugrats,” original shows like “Star Trek: Discovery” and the ViacomCBS library will entice viewers(Photo by Willy Sanjuan/Invision/AP, File)
Will Paramount+ be a mountain or a molehill in streaming?

Over the last year and a half more and more streaming services have debuted

Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre can accommodate up to 20 patients requiring a ventilator, says Alberta Health Services.  File photo by Advocate staff
Opinion: UCP government reneging on Red Deer hospital funding

Another year, another Alberta budget and another blow to central Albertans. Budget… Continue reading

Seattle Storm guards Sue Bird, right, and Jordin Canada pose for photos Wednesday, March 3, 2021, on the roof of the Space Needle in Seattle after they raised a flag with the team's new logo on it. Bird re-signed with the Storm earlier in the week. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Sue Bird staying busy with 20th Seattle season on horizon

Lille players celebrate after Jonathan David scored his side's second goal during the French League One soccer match between Lille and Marseille at the Stade Pierre Mauroy stadium in Villeneuve-d'Ascq, France, Wednesday, March 3, 2021. (AP Photo/Michel Spingler)
David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

David scores 2 as Lille wins to stay two points clear of PSG

Canada defender Shelina Zadorsky, right, passes the ball in front of Argentina forward Sole Jaimes (9) during the second half of a SheBelieves Cup women's soccer match, Sunday, Feb. 21, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. Alphonso Davies and Shelina Zadorsky have been named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Phelan M. Ebenhack
Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Davies, Zadorsky named Canada Soccer’s players of the month for February

Most Read