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'Slight increase' in overdoses follows opiate alert

By KARLEE STEFFANNI • Sep 21, 2017 at 10:18 AM

The Willard hospital saw a ‘slight increase’ in overdoses Monday following the opiate overdose watch alert issued by the county.

Mercy Health Willard Hospital Emergency Department manager Heather Slone said the hospital saw more overdoses than usual over the last week — part of what prompted the alert. 

The opiate alert was issued by Huron County Public Health (HCPH) at 12:30 p.m. as part of the health department’s opiate response plan. The alert was active for 24 hours.

Per its “patient privacy policies,” Fisher-Titus Medical Center would not release specific information regarding the overdose watch, said Johnna Young, senior public relations specialist.

Officials at The Bellevue Hospital also declined to comment for this story.

Marsha Danhoff, Willard hospital’s director of marketing and communication, said the hospital is part of the group that “instituted the alert.” 

In a prepared statement on Tuesday, Katie Spaar, HCPH director of community Health at Huron County Public Health referenced this group as the Huron County Health Partners. The group is comprised of representatives from hospitals and schools as well as law enforcement, mental health and social services agencies.

“The Huron County Health Partners have been working together to reduce substance abuse in the community for years,” Spaar said. “Part of the plan calls for early notification … of an increase in opiate overdoses in the community.”

This means emergency rooms throughout the county will notify the health department if the number of overdoses admitted within a 24-hour period surpasses the “normal” amount, thus, sparking an opiate alert.

Danhoff said the hospital also saw an increase in overdoses after the alert was issued. Although she said the emergency department is “always prepared” for these incidents, the alert allowed them to take extra precautions.

“The alert is doing its job,” said Danhoff.

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