As local overdoses spike, has the ER seen more activity?

Updated: Dec. 9, 2019 at 5:52 PM EST
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WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Has the emergency room seen more activity when it comes to overdoses in Jefferson County? Even with the recent spike, doctors say no.

Since October, 11 possible drug overdose deaths were reported in Jefferson County.

Dr. Sarah Delaney oversees the emergency department at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown. And while this may surprise you, when it comes to overdoses and more or less traffic, Dr. Delaney says there's not much of a change.

"If you want me to say from last year to this year, if I've seen a dramatic change, I haven't. I can speak to from maybe 10 years ago, certainly when I was a resident, it was a significant increase," she said.

Jefferson County Public Health reports from January 1 of this year to now, 12 overdose deaths are confirmed in Jefferson County.

Dr. Delaney says as stressful as the emergency department can be, treating drug overdoses takes a different kind of toll.

"It does take an emotional toll on staff when they experience it on a frequent basis, patients who are suffering from drug addiction, overdoses and those types of things," she said.

Jefferson County public health planner Steve Jennings says in new a report presented to county legislators, emergency visits for overdoses in the county have remained about the same since 2017.

Inpatient hospitalizations, however, have increased since last year.

With the help of 'ODMAP,' a tool designed to track overdoses in real time, Jennings says there is some good news the number has gone down within a week.

"There have only been three overdoses reported since last Monday as of this moment and no deaths," said Jennings.

Both doctors and public health officials are hoping the decreasing trend continues.

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