April 24, 2019 6:24 am

Opioid-related E.R. visits on the rise in Kingston: Public Health Ontario

Opioid emergency room visits increasing in Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington

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Recent statistics released by Public Health Ontario show emergency room visits related to opioid use are on the rise.

In the Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington region, the first three months of 2018 saw 33 emergency room visits that jumped to 63 for the same time period in 2019.

That represents a 90.9 per cent increase.

READ MORE: Carfentanil found in Kingston: Public health unit


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KFL&A Public Health Resident Physician Dr. Samantha Buttemer says a lot of emergency room resources go into treating someone that may be experiencing an overdose.

She says it’s good the individual is getting the help they need, but it does strain the E.R. system.

“It means those are resources that would otherwise be used elsewhere in the emergency room,” Buttemer said, “so it’s possible it could contribute to wait times.”

What the numbers don’t reveal is the cause for the dramatic increase — which is one of the reasons why health officials are focusing on safety.

Buttemer says the presence of synthetics like fentanyl and carfentanil in the region can increase the chances of a person overdosing.

READ MORE: Kingston public health warns of increase in fentanyl, cartfentanil in street drugs

“Never use alone, have naloxone present, know the signs and symptoms of an overdose and call 9-1-1 if you are worried,” she said.

According to Buttemer, a potential overdose can include drowsiness, slowed breathing and a loss of consciousness.

Naloxone can reverse or stop the effects of an opioid overdose and Buttemer says naloxone is available free of cost.

Naloxone kits can be picked up at KFL&A Public Health, Street Health Centre in downtown Kingston and most pharmacies.

WATCH: U.S. government files charges against major drug distributor over alleged roles in opioid scandal

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