Sappey hosts Naloxone training event

Pictured left to right are Dr. Joseph Greco, MD, LCH Medical Director, state Rep. Christina Sappey, Kate Genthert-Siolek, Chester County Drug and Alcohol Prevention Specialist, and Bob Rafetto, PRLA Brandywine Chapter Co-Chair.

Community members joined State Rep. Christina Sappey on Monday for a Free Naloxone Training at Kennett Borough Hall. The event was hosted with support from the Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services, The PA Restaurant & Lodging Association (PRLA), Good Fellowship Ambulance & EMS Training Institute and LCH Health and Community Services (formerly known as La Comunidad Hispana).

The training, led by Chester County Drug and Alcohol Services, included an overview of the opioid epidemic in Chester County as well as information about resources to help in the fight against addiction. Participants learned how to identify a possible opioid overdose and how to administer naloxone. Following the presentation, attendees received a free naloxone kit.

Naloxone, also known by the brand name Narcan, is a medication that can rapidly reverse an overdose by blocking the effects of opioids. It can restore breathing within two to eight minutes and has been used safely by medical professionals for more than 40 years.

Accidental overdose is up at the county, state and national levels over the past 20 years, reports show. In Chester County, most overdose deaths had fentanyl present in the system, an opioid with effects that can be reversed by naloxone.

“Last year in Chester County we lost 109 lives to accidental drug overdose, a majority of which involved opioids,” said Vince Brown, Director of Chester County Department of Drug and Alcohol Services. “We must work together to provide comprehensive solutions to the opioid epidemic, naloxone access being one part. The medication saves lives. And once stabilized following an overdose, someone who is suffering from an Opioid Use Disorder has a chance to obtain treatment and recovery; and we know, treatment works and recovery is possible.”

Spanish translation services were made available during the event by LCH Health and Community Services.

“We are proud to be involved in the Community Naloxone Training, hosted by state Rep. Christina Sappey. LCH is a community health center with multiple health care practices in southern Chester County that are here for everyone in our community,” said LCH CEO Ronan Gannon. “I am pleased to further introduce the community to Dr. Joseph Greco, MD, LCH Medical Director, who leads our medical and clinical team here at LCH and is leading our efforts at this event.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in nearly 40% of overdose deaths, at least one bystander was present. Having naloxone available and knowing how to use it can stop a fatal overdose. Bystanders should also dial 911 immediately. Through the Good Samaritan Law, those who respond to an overdose by administering naloxone and/or calling 911 are protected from prosecution.

“The hospitality industry, like many others, has been significantly impacted by the opioid epidemic,” said Zak Pyzik, PRLA. “It’s vital that we spread the word about the resources available so our operators, employees, and communities are equipped with the tools and knowledge they need to address the challenges we’re facing.

“We appreciate Representative Sappey’s efforts and outreach on this subject and for including us in this important conversation.”

In addition to the training, presenters emphasized the importance of properly disposing of unused or expired medications to keep unauthorized prescription opioids off the street. The county manages a list of medication drop boxes that are open to the public here.

“Thank you to all of the sponsors for their support in bringing another crucial conversation about opioids to our community,” Sappey said. “Sadly, every day at least 10 people in Pennsylvania will die from a drug overdose. Trainings are one way we can help prevent these tragedies. By learning how to administer naloxone, you could help save a life.”

Pennsylvania recently expanded the naloxone standing order, which allows anyone to obtain the medication from a pharmacy without a prescription. While pharmacies do charge for naloxone, most insurances provide some coverage. Naloxone is also available free for personal use through a statewide mail-based program through the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

Businesses or organization interested in hosting a naloxone training event can contact Chester County Drug and Alcohol Services at 610-344-6620.

For those struggling with an opioid use disorder, the Chester County Drug and Alcohol Services offers a confidential referral hotline at 1-866-286-3767.

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