SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. - Snohomish County’s emergency rooms are overburdened with people suffering from opioid-related issues, including overdose and sometimes death.
For the first time the county’s largest hospital is tracking overdose data in hopes of identifying the populations most in need of intervention. Ultimately, that will free up beds in the emergency room for other patients.
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Eric Korsmeyer is a nurse, but he’s also a statistician.
Korsmeyer has been building a database of opioid overdose patients who come to the ER at Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett.
“We see a lot of people that come in with withdrawal or an abscess from shooting up,” Korsmeyer said.
That happens multiple times a day. Additionally, he said, actual overdoses happen nearly on a daily basis.
“We have between five and seven a week, give or take a few,” Korsmeyer said.
His position is funded by a grant through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and he sends his numbers to the Snohomish County Health District weekly. They’re then used as a sort of litmus test for the county’s opioid crisis response.
“We want to make sure the interventions we’re having are making an impact and also: Are there certain parts of the county or age ranges we need to target moving forward?” Heather Thomas, with the Snohomish County Health District, said.
They give that information to the drug and gang task force as well as and use it to apply for more grants to combat the problem.
“A question we get is ‘how many treatment beds or how many slots do we need in the community?’ Until we can get a sense for how big the problem is in Snohomish county or the trends we can’t fully answer that question,” Thomas continued.
The health district is also on the third day of a seven-day “point in time” count to determine how many opioid overdoses are happening in the county. 2017 was the first year that data was collected.
“We had 37 overdoses in one week, including 10 in one day last year,” Thomas said.
So far this week, Providence Regional Medical Center has had three, including one Wednesday.
Korsmeyer said the hope is to connect those people with resources so they don’t come back. The patient Wednesday refused to use the resources.
“He didn’t think he had a problem with opioids and so he wasn’t interested in getting help.”
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