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Keyword: overdose

Emergency Room Staff, Certified Peer Counselors and Naloxone: Working Together to Save Lives

As part of a multi-pronged approach to stem the tide of opioid overdose deaths, the Baltimore County Department of Health and elected officials provided naloxone to four Baltimore County hospitals today. Greater Baltimore Medical Center, MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, Northwest Hospital and University of Maryland St. Joseph Medical Center each received approximately 1,200 doses of the medication to distribute to high risk patients being discharged from the hospitals. 

“Naloxone saves lives but only if it is available on the spot, in the moment it is needed,” said Baltimore County Executive Don Mohler. “This important partnership with our hospitals means we empower their peer support counselors to get this life-saving medication into the hands of family and friends who can save the lives of their loved ones.”

Dr. Gregory Wm. Branch, Director of the Department of Health and Human Services presented the hospitals with a supply of NARCAN® (an intra-nasal brand of naloxone) calling it the drug of second chances. “Naloxone works! We know that this drug saves lives when administered in time,” said Dr. Branch. “Making it available in our local emergency rooms can mean giving someone a second chance to change their life trajectory.”

“We are honored to team with Baltimore County in our commitment to reduce opioid deaths,” said Sandy Winfield, MS, FACHE, vice president of Clinical and Support Services at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. “We are grateful for this generous donation that unfortunately, has become vitally important to the cause.”

“I strongly believe that by working together, community hospitals and our county government can make a serious impact,” said Jeffrey P. Sternlicht, MD, FACEP, chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. “We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort to provide the delivery of this life-saving medication and to help those that are struggling with their addiction.”

Providing naloxone to the four Baltimore County hospitals is just one of the ways the Department of Health is working to reduce the number of deaths caused by opioid overdose. The County has also increased the number of certified peer recovery specialists who focus on helping others to break the grip of addiction. These peer recovery specialists will work with others connected with the four hospitals to provide support, resources and services to people in the community as well as those who have been treated in local emergency rooms for addiction-related issues.   

Distribution of naloxone is also a part of ongoing training sessions that occur across Baltimore County each month. These free, two-hour sessions provide education to the community about the dangers of illicit opioid use, available resources for those in need of services, and instructions on how to effectively administer the drug to reverse an opioid overdose.

Visit www.baltimorecountymd.gov/odresponse or call 410-887-3224 for a listing of upcoming training dates and locations.


Drug Drop Boxes are Conveniently Located in all Baltimore County Police Precincts

You know how important it is to read the label on your prescription medication and to take it only as directed. But are you also aware of how important it is to properly dispose of medications that you are no longer using? Unused prescription drugs can find their way into the wrong hands – with dangerous and oftentimes tragic consequences.

To help bring attention to this crucial public safety and public health issue, the Baltimore County Department of Health is promoting the national Prescription Drug Take Back Day (Saturday, April 28, 2018) and are reminding county residents that there are Drug Drop Box Locations in police precincts throughout Baltimore County. While the national observance will occur on April 28, Baltimore residents are able to place their expired and unused prescriptions in drug drop boxes throughout the county year round - 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 6.4 million Americans abused controlled prescription drugs – the majority of which were obtained directly from family and friends or by having access to the home medicine cabinets of family and friends. National Prescription Drug Take Back Day is a safe, convenient and responsible way to clean out your medicine cabinets and dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs and perhaps help prevent drug addiction and potential overdose deaths.

In addition to taking your unused medications to a drug drop box location, you may also dispose of them at home if no specific disposal instructions are given on the prescription drug labeling. Follow these simple steps:

  1. Remove the medicine from its original container and mix it with an undesirable substance, such as used coffee grounds or used kitty litter.
  2. Place the mixture in a sealable bag or container to prevent medicine from leaking out.
  3. Place the sealed bag or container in with your household trash.

Don’t forget to scratch out all identifying information on the prescription drug container to make it unreadable. This will help to protect your identity and maintain the privacy of your personal health information. 

By Gregory Wm. Branch, M.D. 
Director of Health and Human Services


County to Retain Nationally Recognized Law Firm to Pursue Action in Federal Court 

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz announced today that Baltimore County intends to file a federal lawsuit against several pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors of opioids, seeking monetary damages incurred by the County. “The opioid crisis has led to a significant increase of overdoses from heroin and prescription drug abuse," said Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz. “We believe that the pharmaceutical industry pressured and cajoled physicians into prescribing opioids for chronic pain, and vastly misrepresented the risk of addiction. The desire to increase profits on the part of drug companies is a leading cause of our nation’s health crisis, and we must fight back.”

In the first six months of 2017, Baltimore County had 187 substance-related deaths. The County has incurred expenses relating to first-responder intervention, drug and alcohol counseling programs, employee prescription expense, and loss of economic revenue to the County, among other costs. 

The County expects to file its case in the federal District Court, and seek consolidation for trial with other similar cases. It is entered into a contingent fee retainer agreement with the law firm Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd, LLP, subject to approval by the County Council. Robbins Geller maintains a national practice with substantial experience in whistleblower, antitrust, consumer and insurance class actions. The firm currently represents cities and counties in Michigan, Florida and Arizona in the opioid litigation. The Maryland-based law firm of Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin & White LLC would also serve as local counsel. 


 
 
Revised September 11, 2017