Pubdate: Tue, 28 Feb 2017
Source: Kingston Whig-Standard (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Sun Media
Author: Elliot Ferguson
Page: A1


Health, community and emergency service agencies from the Kingston
area gathered Monday to plan for what many fear is a coming
public-health crisis.

With a sudden spike in opioid overdoses across the country, medical
experts, paramedics, firefighters, police officers, community health
groups and representatives from public health units from Kingston,
Frontenac, Lennox and Addington, Grenville and Lanark and Prince
Edward County met for a daylong set of table-top exercises and
discussions about how best to cope with the opioid overdose crisis
should it hit the Kingston area.

More than 95 people representing emergency first responders, acute
care hospitals, physicians, community health providers, public health
agencies, emergency managers, and provincial and federal partners from
across the South East Local Health Integration Network and Public
Health Ontario took part in the meeting.

The growing number of opioid overdoses included the deaths of two
teenagers in Ottawa in recent weeks. The overdoses are blamed on an
influx of counterfeit prescription pills containing the powerful
opioid fentanyl. While Kingston-area community and medical officials
spent the day preparing how they would respond, Dr. Kieran Moore,
associate medical officer of health with Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox
and Addington Public Health, said people should be aware of the dangers.

"Everyone should assume that any drug in this community contains
fentanyl," Moore said. "Anyone using drugs should be using with a
partner and they should have naloxone available. Our drug stores have
it, our street health has it.

"The illicit drug market, we have to assume, is contaminated and you
have to take the precautions. Everyone in the community should know
it, and be talking about it with their children and their loved ones,"
he said.

Moore said there is an average of one opioid overdose death in the
Kingston area every month, and he said the concern is that more
fentanyl-laced drugs, including ecstasy and cocaine, will arrive in
the area.

"Part of the challenge with dealing with illicit drugs is you don't
know what you are getting. If you are a drug user, even if you are a
recreational drug user, have a naloxone kit on you or near you," said
Stafford Murphy, director of operations for the Kingston Community
Health Centres (KCHC), which operates the street health clinic.

"Anything that is coming off the street could have God knows what
mixed in with it," he said.

Murphy said the street health clinic provides outreach services to
those using drugs and provides naloxone kits to anyone who may need
them to counter the effects of a fentanyl overdose.

Murphy said the warning about contaminated drugs applies to both
regular users and recreational users, the latter of which may not have
the experience to know their reaction is not normal.

"Every parent has to have that discussion with their children," Murphy
said. "Now is not the time to experiment."
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