Lompoc Valley Medical Center’s Emergency Department is now a distribution site for free doses of Naloxone – commonly known as Narcan -- a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose.
As part of California Department of Health Care Services’ Naloxone Distribution Program, the hospital’s Emergency Department received a distribution of 48 boxes, each with two doses. People at risk of an opioid-related overdose, or a person who is a family member, friend or anyone in a position to assist a person at risk, may go to LVMC’s Emergency Department and request a free box of Naloxone. That person must be willing to learn the basic elements of overdose prevention and how to administer Naloxone nasally.
“It’s fantastic,” Emergency Department Director Ryan Stevens, RN, said. “It could potentially save lives.”
An LVMC assessment notes that 28 percent of the adult patients treated at the hospital’s Emergency Department have a substance use disorder. Additionally, statistics indicate the Lompoc Valley area has a significant population of people who ingest, smoke and snort opioids and stimulants that are now being unexpectedly exposed to fentanyl – and often with catastrophic results. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid that is 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
According to Project Opioid Santa Barbara County, preliminary numbers show that in Santa Barbara County, there were more than 133 overdose deaths between January 2021 and January 2022. Additionally, fentanyl-involved deaths in the county increased 81 percent since 2019, and fentanyl was present in 50.4 precent of the drug overdose deaths in the county in 2021. According to Project Opioid, Lompoc had 28 people die by overdoses in 2021.
At LVMC, people wanting the free doses do not need to register in the Emergency Department. The only information collected by the hospital will be the date, the person’s age and whether they have, or the person they’re concerned about, has overdosed in the past.
Stevens said the person receiving the Naloxone will be educated to call 9-1-1 if someone seems to be overdosing. Additionally, the person will be warned that the overdosing person may awaken and be violent. The person overdosing may also vomit, so the person administering the dose will need to ensure the person is on his or her side.
LVMC has already distributed 13 boxes of Naloxone since the end of May. The first day of distribution, four people who had previously overdosed came for a free distribution. According to LVMC clinical leadership, one prior study investigating naloxone prescription and filling rates found that only 11 percent of ED patients at risk for opioid overdose were prescribed naloxone, and only 1.6 percent of ED patients actually filled those prescriptions.
DHCS created the Naloxone Distribution Project (NDP) to combat opioid overdose-related deaths throughout California. Since October 2018, the NDP has distributed over 1,000,000 units of naloxone, and recorded over 57,000 overdose reversals.