County Executive Allan Kittleman on Tuesday announced a partnership between Howard County and its health insurer, Aetna, to have the provider donate 408 naloxone kits to the county.
The partnership, the first of its kind between Aetna and a county government, is part of the county’s effort to train every government employee in how to use the opioid overdose antidote. As a result of the donations, naloxone kits will be placed in the box of every automated external defibrillator in county-owned buildings.
While the county is not mandating that its employees be trained in how to use naloxone, Kittleman said the county is providing every employee with an hour of leave to use for training.
“Who knows the life you might save,” Kittleman said.
The announcement was timely. Earlier that day, Deputy Sheriff Dave Manning administered naloxone to a person who experienced an overdose in the halls of the county’s courthouse. The naloxone Manning used was located in the building’s AED box; the sheriff’s department began placing the drug in its boxes approximately a month ago, according to Sheriff Bill McMahon.
The person who overdosed was using heroin and methadone at the time of the overdose, Manning said. Police confirmed that the person is alive and is currently receiving care.
“We have many defendants that come in [to the courthouse], and this is a prime example of why we need [naloxone],” Manning said. “It can happen anywhere.”
Kittleman said the timing of the overdose, the county’s 161st non-fatal overdose of the year, made it even more apparent why this partnership is necessary. The county has had 55 fatal overdoses this year and surpassed 2016’s total of 40 deaths in October.
“I can talk until I’m blue in the face, but that story drives it home,” Kittleman said of Manning administering naloxone at the courthouse.
During his remarks, Kittleman mentioned the county’s continued search for a location for its first residential detox center. Led by Health Officer Maura Rossman and Director of Policy and Programs Carl DeLorenzo, the county has been hunting for a location since July.
DeLorenzo said in October that the county had narrowed its search to a few specific possibilities, including space at Springfield Hospital Center in Carroll County.
The police department has also started including overdose incidents in its daily crime bulletin, which is posted on its website, Twitter and Facebook. Nearly every day since the practice began in October, there has been another overdose.
“It’s painful,” Rossman said. “Every death is a missed opportunity, a failure.”