BURLEY — Intermountain Cassia Regional Hospital officials recently announced that they handed out almost 70 naloxone kits free to the community at their annual Health and Safety Expo in May.
This was the first time that naloxone was provided to the community for free by Cassia Regional Hospital. The kits were handed out to anyone who asked to have them available in their homes to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose.
Every month, 10 people in Idaho die from prescription opioid overdoses. A naloxone kit can be used to reverse the effects of the overdose and save a life. Intermountain Healthcare encourages everyone who has an opioid prescription to also have a naloxone kit in their house, in case of accidental overdose or misuse.
The ability to provide naloxone kits, at no charge to the community, was an undertaking that Ben Smalley, Cassia Regional Hospital’s administrator, Lisa Nichols, Intermountain’s community health assistant vice president, and Kristy Jones, Intermountain community health manager, took upon themselves.
This was a major initiative that included working speaking with Idaho State Representative Fred Wood, MD. This conversation clarified Idaho laws and also started dialogue with the Idaho State Board of Pharmacy. That conversation with the Board of Pharmacy ensured that everything was set for the free distribution.
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“We know the opioid crisis is everywhere and we wanted to make these life-saving kits available,” Smalley said. “I thought this was a perfect way where we could reach out to our officials and work together to be able to get the lifesaving kits to our community.”
Smalley has since accepted an invitation to serve on Idaho’s Opioid and Substance Abuse Advisory Group, which is researching, evaluating, and providing recommendations on a list of matters, such as determining the best approaches other states are using to combat opioid misuse and substance abuse and helping Idaho carry out its Opioid Misuse and Overdose Strategic Plan.
The safety and health expo had a table set up with information on naloxone and the kits, along with Smalley, Nichols and Jones on hand to help educate the community.
“I spoke with a parent at the health expo who asked me to train their children in the use of naloxone. Their other parent was at risk for an overdose. They were clearly frightened that they’d overdose at home. It’s so heartbreaking to hear these stories, and so powerful to know that hope and resources are offered,” Nichols said.
Intermountain Cassia Regional Hospital is part of Intermountain Healthcare, a not-for-profit system of 24 hospitals, 215 clinics, a Medical Group with 2,500 employed physicians and advanced practice clinicians, a health insurance company called SelectHealth, and other health services in Idaho, Utah, and Nevada.