“There is a public health crisis brewing – much like a tornado forming – with a new supply of heroin and other drugs coming into this area,” said Dr. Hiram Polk, the state health commissioner. “This is a serious public health threat tied to a number of overdoses, hospitalizations and deaths across the county and needs public attention now.”
Polk said officials expect a rise in recreational drug use on the Labor Day weekend, so they felt a warning was needed.
“Recent law-enforcement reports cite a new supply of heroin laced with the drug Fentanyl coming into the state – especially Louisville,” Polk said. “These drugs are much more toxic and can cause respiratory failure and death.
Over the coming days, DPH is asking hospitals and facilities to prepare for increases in drug overdoses so that individuals can be properly treated, deaths prevented and we are better informed about the prevalence and nature of these occurrences.”
The state is asking hospitals to expand emergency-room and intensive-care staff, have pharmacies stock up on Naloxone, the “antidote” to heroin and other drug overdoses. to assist patients who may need long term drug treatment.
“It can take as much as three times the amount of Naloxone to reverse a given overdose with these mixed drugs as it would normally,” Polk said.
Assistance is available by calling the health department at 1-888-9REPORT (973-7678) or the Kentucky Emergency Management System at (502) 607-1638 or 800-255-2587.
“Many of these services are available 24 hours a day,” Polk said.