Kentucky’s public health commissioner is warning hospitals to stock up on Naloxone and be prepared to beef up their emergency room staffing this holiday weekend because of a possible spike in overdoses from heroin laced with fentanyl.
Dr. Hiram Polk, commissioner of the Kentucky Department for Public Health, issued the warning Thursday, citing recent law enforcement reports about fentanyl-laced heroin coming into Kentucky, particularly Louisville. He said the drugs pose a “serious public health threat” and have already caused “a number of overdoses, hospitalizations and deaths.”
“These drugs are much more toxic and can cause respiratory failure and death,” Polk said in a news release. “There is a public health crisis brewing —much like a tornado forming — with a new supply of heroin and other drugs coming into this area.”
Polk said he and his staff are worried that an increase in recreational drug use over the Labor Day weekend could cause emergency rooms to be “overrun” with users needing medical attention.
He urged hospitals to be ready to increase ER staffing and have more Naloxone on hand to treat overdoses.
“It can take as much as three times the amount of Naloxone to reverse a given overdose with these mixed drugs as it would normally,” he said.
Polk said hospitals should also be ready to provide referrals for treatment and have social workers and related resources available.