Regional Approach Needed To Address Opioid Crisis

Ambulance backing into the Emergency Department at Windsor Regional Hospital- Met Campus. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

An official at the Windsor Regional Hospital says addressing the region’s opioid crisis won’t be easy, and will require regional cooperation.

Monica Staley Liang, the vice president of the Windsor Regional Cancer Centre, Renal Unit and patient legal affairs, recently conducted an audit of opioid-related visits to the hospital’s emergency department. Between April 2016 and last November, she says 80 patients who had overdosed on opioids visited the ER, and of them, 30 were admitted.

Unfortunately, the addiction has no preference and crosses all demographics.

“I know in reviewing my audit, it’s all age ranges,” Staley Liang says. “As old as 70 and as young as 2-year-olds accessing their parent’s narcotics,” and across the socioeconomic spectrum.

Recently, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit released a report which says the total rate of opioid users was 18.9% higher in Windsor-Essex than the provincial average. The region has the seventh highest rate. It also says the number of opioid-related deaths has jumped almost 190% since 2003.

She says the hospital is already reaching out to its partners in the community to come up with a strategy.

“Not everybody has a primary care physician. We don’t always know where they are accessing or was it a valid access,” says Staley Liang noting that many users have comorbidities that may have required a doctor’s prescription.

Opioids include hydromorphone, methadone, morphine, oxycodone, codeine, fentanyl and heroin.