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Narcan 'Leave-Behind' Kits Now Available on AMH Ambulances

Alton Memorial Hospital is among the first ambulance services in the region to carry “leave-behind” Narcan for patients as well as patients’ families when responding to an overdose call.

“We are excited to be able to offer this service throughout our community,” said Jason Bowman, manager of AMH Emergency Medical Services. “Anything we can do to help reduce overdose cases is an important part of what we do.”

Xylazine and Fentanyl test strips are also now available in a kit carried on each AMH ambulance. Xylazine is a veterinary medicine but is cheap and easy to obtain and can be added to a drug supply. It enhances the sedative effect of other substances.

The program is part of Alton Memorial’s Drug Overdose Prevention Program, which is part of the Illinois Department of Human Services, Division of Substance Use Prevention and Recovery’s initiative to alleviate this serious problem.

“We are constantly looking for ways to improve the care we provide to our communities,” said Rachel Lair, Region IV EMS coordinator. “If the supplies we are able to provide to at-risk patients or their friends and family are able to prevent even one person from overdosing, then I will consider it a success.”

Meredith Parker, manager of AMH Behavioral Health and Addiction Medicine, obtained a grant through the Illinois Department of Health Human Services’ Substance Use Prevention and Recovery for “leave behind” naloxone (known by its brand name Narcan) program. More than 400 AMH staff members have been educated to be able to dispense Narcan, and almost 2,500 kits were distributed in the first year of the hospital program, which was from Oct. 1, 2022, through Sept. 30, 2023.

“People are more likely to use Narcan when it is actually handed to them versus prescribing it with the expectation that the person will fill it,” Parker said. “It’s also important because many patients are discharged from the hospital with medication that includes opiates. But having it available on EMS calls makes this an even more effective program.”

Narcan is a medication that rapidly reverses opioid overdose, which occurs when the level of opioids in the body causes a person to be unresponsive or slows/stops their breathing. Narcan has a stronger affinity for opioid receptors. Narcan doesn’t prevent overdoses but prevents patients who overdose from dying.

The program has allowed AMH staff to administer Narcan to patients and visitors viewed as at-risk for opioid overdose. Dr. Alexander Zozula of the AMH Emergency Department saw a need among EMS calls to have this program benefit our entire community.

“According to IDPH, we’re the first system in region 4 to be doing this,” Dr. Zozula said.

Bowman said that the Narcan kits include some educational materials as well as community resources for the patient or family before leaving the scene.

Find a doctor or make an appointment: 618.463.7220 or 800.392.0936
General Information: 618.463.7311
Alton Memorial Hospital
One Memorial Drive
Alton, Illinois 62002

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