The July/August issue of the Healthcare Journal of Arkansas includes an article by ACHI President and CEO Dr. Joe Thompson discussing the opioid overdose epidemic and a new program that seeks to reduce overdose deaths in Arkansas.
Thompson notes that overdose deaths in Arkansas increased by 41% in 2020.
“Clearly, this crisis is affecting every corner of our society: our neighbors, our coworkers, our family members, our friends,” he writes.
NaloxHome, which launched May 31, provides the overdose reversal drug naloxone, commonly known by the brand name Narcan, to hospital emergency departments for distribution to at-risk patients and their families. ACHI is partnering with the state drug director and the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS) to administer the program. Funding is provided by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration through DHS.
At the time Thompson wrote his article, United Health in Searcy had just become the first hospital to participate in NaloxHome. Other hospitals that have joined the program since then, in alphabetical order, include Baptist Health Systems in Little Rock, Arkadelphia, Heber Springs, Stuttgart, Fort Smith, and Conway; CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs; CHI St. Vincent Infirmary in Little Rock; Dardanelle Regional Medical Center; Drew Memorial Health System in Monticello; McGehee Hospital; Saline Health System in Benton; St. Bernards Healthcare in Jonesboro, and the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences in Little Rock.
Thompson also discusses other strategies that could help address the overdose epidemic, including making naloxone available over the counter, making fentanyl test strips more widely available, and establishing syringe service programs, also known as needle exchange programs.