ThedaCare Behavioral Health Team Training April 17
The Outpatient Recovery Services team at ThedaCare Behavioral Health will have a new way to help save lives this week when they receive training in the administration of Naloxone, a drug which can pause the effects of an opioid overdose.
“We have a number of patients who come to ThedaCare Behavioral Health for help with their opioid addiction,” said Heather Pagel, therapeutic services manager. “Although we have not had an overdose occur in our building, we know the possibility of this happening is very real, and we want to make sure our staff is prepared.”
Death from opioid use occurs because the drugs cause respiratory depression – people simply stop breathing. The drug Naloxone blocks the brain’s opioid receptors, allowing normal breathing to resume for up to 90 minutes, long enough for the patient to receive medical attention, Pagel said.
Law enforcement and emergency medical technicians in the region are already carrying Naloxone for use in the community. In April, the U.S. Surgeon General issued a national advisory urging that more people carry Naloxone to help prevent more deaths.
The training and availability of Naloxone will not only help patients, but also potentially aid staff who assist these patients, said Jason Selwitschka, EMS coordinator for ThedaCare Regional Medical Centers in Appleton and Neenah. Public safety personnel have encountered secondary exposure to drugs such as Fentanyl powder, causing serious and life-threatening reactions such as respiratory arrest.
Opiate drugs include illegal drugs such as heroin and prescription drugs like hydrocodone (Vicodin) and oxycodone (Percocet). In 2016, more than 42,000 people nationwide died of opioid overdose, 40 percent of which were from prescription drug overdoses. By comparison, about 38,000 people died of car crashes in 2016.
“Opiate overdose deaths are continuing to rise,” said Carrie Kubasta, clinical supervisor. “Putting our patients and their families first means we need to be proactive in using whatever resources we have available to save lives.”
Data shows that communities who have made Naloxone readily available have shown a reduction in overdose deaths, she said.
“Our hope is that we will be prepared in the event that we do need to respond to an overdose,” Kubasta said. “And we want our patients, their families, and the community to know that ThedaCare Behavioral Health is a safe place to talk about addiction and get help.”
Kubasta said one goal is to encourage others within the health care system to be trained in Naloxone administration as well as work to provide more access to patients who seek treatment and recovery.
“Equipping our staff with the skills, abilities and knowledge to respond to an overdose not only improves the safety of our patients and their families, but also the greater community,” Kubasta said. “No one chooses addiction, and every life is worth saving. If you are alive, then you can get into treatment and find recovery.”
For more than 100 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to finding a better way to deliver serious and complex healthcare to patients throughout Northeast Wisconsin. The organization serves over 200,000 patients annually and employs more than 6,800 healthcare professionals throughout the region. ThedaCare has seven hospitals located in Appleton, Neenah, Berlin, Waupaca, Shawano, New London and Wild Rose, as well as 31 clinics in nine counties and the ThedaCare Regional Cancer Center in Appleton. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving our specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a non-profit healthcare organization with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs as well as a foundation dedicated to community service. For more information, visit www.thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on Facebook and Twitter.