Opiate Overdose Response

This past weekend represented an unusually high number of heroin and other opiate overdoses in the Eugene/Springfield area, but these overdoses have been in keeping with recently observed trends. There have been two distinct patterns of heroin and other opiate related overdoses occurring with increased frequency: poly-substance OD’s and fentanyl contaminated OD’s:

  • Poly-substance overdoses present a unique frustration to first-responders because they generally combine opiates, alcohol, and other substances often including benzodiazopenes or other prescription pharmaceuticals, which requires field stabilization and hospital treatment.
  • Fentanyl contamination has been detected in various street drugs and counterfeit prescription medications in the Pacific Northwest, and has been particularly common locally in a strain of heroin that has been encountered by users and first responders in recent weeks.

Lane Co. EMS, EPD, SPD, and CAHOOTS all carry the opiate overdose reversing medication Naloxone, commonly referred to by its trade name, Narcan. Naloxone is administered to treat overdose patients presenting with respiratory distress caused by the overdose, the medication enters the respiratory center of the brain stem and flushes neural synapses by out-competing the opiates present in the blood stream to to temporarily reverse respiratory inhibition; for patients whose breathing has ceased Naloxone is frequently administered along with CPR.

CAHOOTS, specifically, has not experienced a significant increase in overdose responses, largely because the increased public awareness of the opiate crisis has increased the aggressiveness of EMS and law enforcement responses to these emergencies. White Bird’s main clinic staff including the Crisis Team and Front Rooms/Reception staff have, on the other hand, reported a significant increase in interventions this year, with three incidents of Naloxone and CPR administration in the past 2 months. White Bird has begun the process of standardizing Naloxone training for all staff in addition to First Aid and CPR requirements.

Locally, the increased frequency of opiate overdoses has not been accompanied by a proportionate increase in overdose deaths. Increased public awareness has led to increased public involvement, with bystander-administered Naloxone and CPR saving brain tissue and lives prior to professional responders arriving on scene, and with increased awareness of Oregon’s Good Samaritan Law amongst drug users reducing the fear and stigma associated with calling 911 to seek assistance in an emergency.

The lives saved have demonstrated the benefits of harm reduction policies:

  • Public health education and outreach efforts increase awareness of the situation, increasing the likelihood of an overdose being recognized and treated.
  • Good Samaritan Laws provide bystanders who interact with law enforcement temporary respite from prosecution, decreasing the likelihood of an overdose patient being abandoned.
  • Broad availability of Naloxone—it is available over-the-counter at most pharmacies free of charge for individuals covered by private insurance or OHP and is also available free of charge along with training through HIV Alliance—increases the likelihood of the medication being available in the event of an emergency.
  • Bystander education including CPR training for community groups and Naloxone administration training for users, their peers, families, and those who work with them facilitates rapid overdose intervention.
  • Aggressive EMS and police responses to overdoses due to their increased public profile decreases the likelihood of overdose patients fleeing the scene of their resuscitation, only to cease breathing again due to lack of follow-up care.

Oregon Health Plan Assistance

Do you want help applying or re-applying for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP)? Do you need help applying for a plan and financial assistance through HealthCare.gov? We are here to assist you! Oregon Health Plan appointments are available on Thursdays at 1400 Mill Street  from 10:30am-2:30pm. Please bring the following information with you (about everyone in your household):

  • Birth date(s)
  • Policy number(s) and plan name(s) for any current health insurance
  • Information about health coverage available at work
  • Social Security number(s), if you have them
  • Immigration document(s), if you have them
  • Email address(es), if you have them
  • Employer and income information
  • Any self-employment deductions

Many of our clients qualify for OHP (Oregon Health Plan, Oregon’s free Medicaid coverage), but if you are over the income cutoff, Sharing Healthcare Options Program (SHOP) staff can also provide assistance with purchasing private insurance through www.healthcare.gov.

We will answer your questions, help you submit your application, and track its progress until you actually have coverage.

Program staff also conduct outreach activities and presentations at community venues and events and at regular times at our offices on E. 12th Avenue. Please visit https://whitebirdclinic.org/shop for more information.

White Bird’s Help Book Has Been Hacked

Last weekend, White Bird Clinic had the good fortune to participate in Hack for a Cause, a local technology competition to build solutions to provide transformative public benefit. Over 200 participants volunteered to put their coding and software skills to the test and 11 non-profits offered up their problems to solve. The one we selected was the community help directory. White Bird’s Performance Coordinator Alan Glick describes what we were hoping for in the following video.

Three teams of volunteers worked around the clock, exploring how our paper Help Book could become an accessible online database. Each of the solutions they presented were beyond our expectations and the community networking opportunities planted seeds for future projects with some of the other non-profit challengers.

screen shot

Demo Start Screen

Joshua, sent us a comment after the event: “I want to say, after really getting to know this data, this is an amazing resource, and I am honored to be able to help make it better.”

We will continue to develop this digital Help Book website with our partners for a 2019 release. We are so thankful for the support from the Technology Association of Oregon for making this hack possible.

Until then, you can support our work by ordering the 2018 edition Help Book and joining us at the Lane County Medical Society building at 990 W. 7th Avenue to pick up your book(s) and have lunch with us on Friday, April 27 from 12:00pm to 1:30pm to celebrate 40 years of local, human service information referral and see what’s next for Lane County’s Help Book.

CAHOOTS Receives 2018 Excellence in Public Health Award

On April 10th, CAHOOTS was selected by the Lane County Board of Commissioners as a recipient of the 2018 Excellence in Public Health Award. The award was presented during the Commissioners’ meeting to recognize the CAHOOTS team’s work in the field as behavioral health first responders, as well as their efforts in outreach, training, education, and support for individuals and groups throughout the area.

Valentine’s Day Flu Clinic

Show you care this Valentine’s Day by getting your flu shot. We’ll be offering free vaccinations from 1-3pm on Wednesday, February 14th at our offices at 341 E. 12th Avenue.

Look for us at the picnic tables out back.

Influenza (flu) is a seasonal disease that can cause mild to severe illness. Most experts think flu viruses are spread mainly by droplets when people with flu cough, sneeze or talk. Less often, a person might also get the flu by touching a surface or object that has the flu virus on it and then touching their own mouth or nose.

People can spread the flu even if they don’t know they’re sick. The flu can be more serious for some people, including young children, pregnant women, older people, people with certain health conditions and smokers. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year.