Putting Overdose Antidote in the Hands of Those in Need

(CENTENNIAL, COLO.) Centura Health is infusing the opioid epidemic gripping Colorado and Kansas with empathy for those enduring a devasting opioid use illness. Centura, the region's leading healthcare system, is the first to put the powerful overdose antidote Naloxone directly in the hands of those in greatest need. Centura Opioid Response Coordinator Mary Beth Savory says, "COVID-19 has made the timing of this initiative imperative - navigating life in a pandemic is stressful for everyone, but the associated anxiety, depression, and isolation are deadly for those facing substance use disorder.” Centura is now taking a whole-person approach to the crisis and empowering those at high risk of an opioid overdose with the opportunity at a second chance. According to Savory, "Each of the system's emergency departments and urgent care centers in Colorado and Kansas will be providing take-home Naloxone kits to those at high risk for an opioid overdose. If the unthinkable occurs, a family member or friend can administer the antidote and save a life."

Statewide, experts predict 2020 could bring a more than 60% increase in drug-related fatalities and anticipate a potential 300% increase in overdose deaths from the opioid drug Fentanyl. Emergency Department physician, Dr. Christopher Johnston, is on the front line of the epidemic and says, "Naloxone is an opioid antagonist - meaning it blocks the effects of opioids on the brain and can rapidly reverse an overdose." While hospitals and paramedics have been using Naloxone successfully for decades, it's become more readily available to the public by prescription in recent years. However, many frontline caregivers, like Dr. Johnston, say they still see far too many deaths, "What we know about substance use disorder is that it comes with a great deal of shame, denial, and confusion. For that reason, we're seeing far too few prescriptions being proactively filled. What we're doing at Centura is physically putting Naloxone in the hands of those in need – giving them and their families a way to reverse a tragic situation.”

Substance use disorder is a manageable illness, and with treatment, it is possible to counteract the disruptive effects substances like opioids have on the brain – but it's not easy. Relapse rates are estimated between 40% to 60%. Naloxone offers those struggling with opioid use disorder another chance at a better life - it's 99% effective and easy for anyone to administer as a nasal spray. Savory adds, "Our goal is to support the vitality of our Colorado and Kansas communities, every life - whole and happy. And this means meeting those who are struggling where they are in their journey and supporting the opportunity for a second chance at taking the path to recovery."


About Centura Health
Centura Health connects individuals, families and neighborhoods across Colorado and western Kansas with more than 6,000 physicians and 21,000 of the best hearts and minds in health care. Through our 17 hospitals, two senior living communities, health neighborhoods, physician practices and clinics, home care and hospice services, and Flight For Life® Colorado, we are making the region’s best health care accessible and affordable in every community we serve. We believe you can inspire the people you care about to live healthier lives by encouraging them to do the little things that can make a big difference. We’re Centura Health, and we’re here for your health. For information on Centura Health or any of the facilities in our network, please visit Centura Health website.

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Kevin Massey

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