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Moving fast on the opioid crisis

Lakeridge Health and the Central East Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) have been wasting no time on implementing key aspects of an Opioid Strategy approved earlier this year.

The plan, an all-encompassing document that contains 21 recommendations for addressing the ongoing opioid crisis, is a set of steps that can result in real change across our health care sector and save many lives. It’s great to see that their health network and our local hospitals are giving this issue the attention it so rightly deserves.

The numbers are disheartening. The opioid crisis claimed the lives of approximately 4,000 Canadians in 2017, according to data from Health Canada, and emergency department visits for opioid overdoses have increased by 53 per cent in the last decade. The region is also entering a peak period for ED visits related to opioids with the number of patients attending for these issues tripling between May and September of 2017.

As it stands, the LHIN and Lakeridge should be commended for their actions so far.

Not only have they begun to educate stakeholders on new prescription guidelines and quality standards, something that can help curb the flow of these drugs at the source, but they’ve also put in place a number of practical measures to help those in need.

One of those is the availability of not only naloxone, a drug that has serious potential to save lives in the event of an overdose, but they’re also now offering fentanyl test kits. These kits can help users identify if the drug they are using is laced with fentanyl, a drug 100 times more powerful than morphine and one that has been responsible for a serious number of overodoses and deaths as even a small quantity laced in other drugs can be fatal.

Along with that, the open doors of the local Rapid Access Addicition Medicine (RAAM) clinics in Durham and now Scarborough and Peterborough, are providing key assistance and relief to those suffering with addiction or from withdrawal.

In our coverage this edition, found on Page 6….Paul McGary, the director of mental health and addictions with Lakeridge Health says that he and his employer have made it a mission to curb the impacts of this crisis.

It’s clear, not only from his words, but the actions taken since the LHIN’s strategy was approved in March, that he speaks the truth.

Keep up the amazing, life-saving work.