Medical officials say opioid poisoning cases at Peterborough Regional Health Centre (PRHC) have nearly doubled in the past two years.
“This is a large problem for our most vulnerable demographic here in town,” said Dr. Mark Troughton, emergency physician at PRHC.
Troughton says the number of cases “creep up” annually. Last year there were about four dozen cases but that will double this year.
“We’re certainly looking at up to 110 people by the end of this year that we would have treated for an opioid-related overdose,” said Troughton. “That’s a bit of a tip of the iceberg of the problem that exists in the community.”
A Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report places Peterborough among the top in Ontario and nationally for cases — a fact that’s not surprising to Peterborough paramedics.
“We’re definitely seeing a rise in the amount of narcotic overdoses that we see on a daily basis,” said Tiffany Covell, an advanced care paramedic.
PRHC was among the first hospitals in Ontario to provide naloxone or Narcan injection kits from the emergency department.
But Covell says sometimes the antidote can make the problem worse.
“Sometimes it’s not uncommon to see a patient that has had Narcan either earlier in the day or sometime last week, ” she said. “We do see repeat people, absolutely. It can be (frustrating) but at this point, I don’t know what the solution is for it. They have an addiction and they need to get past that first, I think.”
Experts say there are a number of things the community can deal with to possibly ease the crisis.
“The key is we integrate our response as a community, that we don’t look at it just as a medical problem or a criminal problem or a social program but that we look at all elements of it,” said Troughton.