November 29th 2016


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December 12th 2016

Partnership Provides Naloxone Rescue Kits to Emergency Patients at Risk of an Opioid Overdose

Care providers at Grand River Hospital’s emergency department have a new harm reduction tool to help save the lives of people at risk of an opioid overdose.

A pilot project between the hospital and the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council has made naloxone rescue kits available to GRH emergency department patients who present with, or are at risk of, an opioid overdose. Funding from the Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network has supported the initiative. Care providers will assess patients at risk and provide kits to those whose needs are clinically appropriate.

Select community pharmacies, Region of Waterloo Public Health and the Sanguen Health Centre offer the rescue kits. Individuals without an emergency health need are encouraged to seek kits from those providers first.

“Research shows an individual who has had an overdose can be at risk of a future overdose. Others using opioid medications as prescribed with coexisting conditions could also be at risk. Providing the kits offers a way to reduce harm and save lives,” said Michael Parkinson of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.

“We appreciate the initiative of emergency staff and physicians as well as pharmacy staff who have worked in partnership with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council to provide this service, in addition to distribution points elsewhere in the community,” said Judy Linton, GRH vice president of clinical services and chief nursing executive.

Opioid overdoses are a significant concern for health providers. According to information compiled by GRH’s emergency department:

  • Opioid overdoses are the third leading cause of acute death in Ontario.
  • The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario estimates that more than 700 people died from opioid toxicity in Ontario in 2015.
  • In the Waterloo Region, about 700 individuals are seen in emergency departments annually because of drug overdoses.
  • In 2014 in Waterloo Region, overdose deaths (23) were the third leading cause of acute mortality… higher than the number of deaths caused by motor vehicle collisions (16).

The partnership has led to the purchase of 100 rescue kits to be provided to GRH emergency patients in need. The kit is a small, hand-held pouch that includes two doses of naloxone, syringes, gloves, a rescue breathing mask and instructions.

Naloxone counter-acts the effects of opioid drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, codeine, hydrocodone, morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone, methadone and others.

It is vitally important that a 9-1-1 call takes place as soon as a suspected opioid overdose is discovered. Naloxone has a short duration, and most opioids can outlast its effect.

Further information as well as other community locations for the kits will be available on GRH’s website at 

For more information, please contact:

Mark Karjaluoto, Director of Communications
Office: (519) 749-4300 extension 2788, cell: (519) 577-4323

Twitter @GRHospitalKW