100 Lives Saved in Opioid Crisis: Health Department's Narcan Program Passes Milestone

100 Lives Saved in Opioid Crisis: Health Department’s Narcan Program Passes Milestone

From left, Public Health Nurse Judy Zwart, Substance Abuse Prevention Specialist, Claire Senglaub, Support Associate Diane Dawson, Public Health Nurse Cheryl Kane , and Director of Disease Prevention Uche Onwuta. (CREDIT: Kane County Health Department)

While the grip of the opioid crisis in Kane County seems unrelenting, there is some good news to be had.

The Kane County Health Department has been training first responders and other people charged with emergency response in the use of Narcan, the drug that almost miraculously reverses opioid overdoses. In fact, Kane County recently passed a sobering milestone: 100 people’s lives have been saved since the first training sessions began in July 2014.

Since then, more than 1,600 people have received training either directly from the Health Department team or through a train-the-trainer program. More than 6,000 Narcan doses have been distributed.

The Health Department’s Narcan team of Substance Abuse Prevention specialist Claire Senglaub, Support Associate Diane Dawson, Public Health Nurse Cheryl Kane, Public Health Nurse Judy Zwart, and Director of Disease Prevention Uche Onwuta has been stepping up efforts to increase the reach to even more people.

At first the team was focused on training sessions for police and fire departments. Now, they are reaching out to a wider range of agencies, such as social service agencies, colleges, schools and libraries.

A $313,000 grant from the Illinois Department of Alcohol and Substance Abuse last year has enabled the department to hire the substance abuse coordinator and keep on providing the training and the doses of Narcan to responders. With this grant, the program is able to provide more prevention education and outreach in the community.

A recently developed feature is an interactive “Lives Saved with Narcan” map created by the Kane County GIS Department and posted on the Health Department’s website. You can access the map by clicking here.

The map details the dates of saves in each jurisdiction in Kane County. A special feature on this site is the locations and contact information for substance abuse treatment centers in Kane County.

On a related note, Kane County has joined with other counties in Illinois to file a major lawsuit against pharmaceutical companies in an effort to recoup funds expended in battling the opioid epidemic.

“The important work of preventing substance abuse continues,” said Barbara Jeffers, executive director of the Kane County Health Department. “Further, a big thank-you is owed to those on the front lines who have diligently worked to save 100 people. They will be counted on until the day arrives when there will be no need for drugs such as Narcan.”

Naloxone, marketed under the trade name Narcan, is a medication used to counter the effects of an overdose. Naloxone is safe and effective and has no effect on non-opioid overdoses.

SOURCE: Kane County Health Department

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