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Release Date: 08/13/2014

Care New England Health System announced today that two of its hospitals, Butler Hospital, located in Providence and Kent Hospital, located in Warwick, are distributing naloxone, more commonly referred to as Narcan, to patients who have been treated for a drug overdose or who are at risk for an overdose. While Narcan is being used by responders in the community, it is believed this is the first time in Rhode Island the opioid overdose antidote is being distributed to at-risk patients in the hospital setting.

The distribution of Narcan kits at Kent began August 1. The clinical staff in the emergency department follow normal protocol for an overdose patient. After consent, patients will receive the kit before discharge. In addition, through an affiliation with The Providence Center and funding from the Rhode Island Department of Behavioral Health, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH), Kent Hospital provides weekend access to on-call recovery coaches for patients who are in need of support and counseling. Additionally, trained staff from The Providence Center are available during the week for patient education and outpatient treatment referral.

Butler has been providing kits to patients in its Alcohol and Drug Partial Hospital Program since October 2013 and upon discharge from the Alcohol and Drug Inpatient Unit since April 2014. Since that time, 164 kits have been provided to patients who consented to receive them and also receive education about its use.

At Butler, patients are assessed by a doctor who prescribes Narcan if it is indicated, after informed consent. The patient is shown a brief educational video and receives education on opiate overdose prevention and Narcan use from the physician and from a pharmacist. The patient receives a naloxone kit (syringe and nasal atomizer) when they leave the hospital. Partial hospital patients receive the kits the day it is ordered by the doctor.

"Given the dramatic increase in overdose deaths here in Rhode Island it is critical that the health care community and those facilities that are on the front lines in treating this crisis confront the problem head on," said James Sullivan, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Butler Hospital. "This is an important opportunity to help save lives and provide treatment and education that will hopefully help reverse this alarming trend."

"This is a collaborative project that has come together through the effort of staff and clinicians across Care New England, including those in our emergency departments, pharmacies and drug and alcohol programs. We see the horrible impact that drugs have on people almost on a daily basis. It ruins lives and it ends lives. We can help change this," said Peter Graves, MD, chief, Department of Emergency Medicine at Kent Hospital.

Butler's Patient Assessment Services Department (emergency department for those needing urgent psychological evaluation and treatment) is coordinating a distribution program but currently provides information about the availability of kits to patients and families through Walgreens (no prescription needed).

Currently, Memorial Hospital, also a Care New England facility, is developing its program.

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