WPSO: Area faces opioid crisis

Published 4:23 am Friday, June 29, 2018

The Washington Parish Coalition on Human Services heard a presentation from Chief Deputy Mike Haley of the Washington Parish Sheriff’s Office on Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. at Elizabeth Sullivan Memorial Church in Bogalusa.

Twenty-five people were in attendance. Haley stated that Louisiana physicians write 108 prescriptions for every 100 people in the state. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, in 2016, there were 63,632 drug overdose deaths in the United States. The CDC further estimates that of those, 42,249 deaths involved any opioid. Haley said, “According to the Louisiana Commission on Prevention of Opioid Abuse, Washington Parish is number two of five parishes that lead the state in opioid deaths.”

The Our Lady of the Angels Hospital Emergency Room reported that there were 93 persons with overdose issues through June of this year. Northshore Emergency Medical Services reported that in 2017, 267 calls were related to drug overdoses and 242 overdosed patients were transported to area hospitals.

Narcan, a prescription medicine that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose, was used 255 times. As The Daily News reported in 2017, “Our Lady of the Angels Hospital Communications Manager Angela Lambert said that Mark Keller, who’s in charge of the emergency room at the hospital, told Lambert ‘over the course of the last seven days there were 45 heroin presentations in the ER.’”

Haley said the Washington Parish Sheriff has sued a pharmaceutical company to stop the flow of opioids.

Gail Brigham presented the Coalition with a certificate for its one-year commitment to Louisiana Partnership for Success grant from Florida Parishes Human Services Authority and the Louisiana Department of Health Office of Behavioral Health.

The Coalition attracted representatives from ADAPT, Choices, Bogalusa Strong, S.E. Louisiana Legal Office, Our Lady of the Angels Hospital, the Bogalusa Police Department, State Rep. Malinda White and State Sen. Beth Mizell’s office and Head Start.

The next Coalition meeting will be held on Tuesday, July 24, at ESM United Methodist Church from 9:30 a.m. until 11:30 a.m. A pre-Coalition subcommittee meeting will be held at 8:30 a.m., and will focus on prescription drug abuse and underage drinking. A luncheon meeting for Bogalusa Strong will be held at the Bogalusa Country Club following the Coalition meeting. The community is invited to all meetings.

There is more information available about the Washington Parish Coalition on Human Services by visiting wpchs.weebly.com, or by liking the coalition on Facebook at WPCHS. Find and follow the coalition on Twitter at twitter.com/WPCoalitionHS or on Instagram at www.instagram.com/adaptincorporated/.