HAMILTON, ON – Yesterday Mayor Fred Eisenberger, and Dr. Jessica Hopkins, Associate Medical Officer of Health convened a broad representation of community partner organizations discuss opioid misuse. The meeting was convened in response to growing concern about opioid misuse, rising overdose deaths, and the presence of high potency opioids like carfentanil in Hamilton.
The summit was attended by representatives of Hamilton Public Health Services, the Coroner’s Office, Hamilton Paramedic Service, Hamilton Fire Service, Hamilton Health Sciences, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, primary care, community health & community mental health organizations, addictions treatment and harm reduction services, housing, along with those with lived experience.
Today representatives at the summit committed to the development of an enhanced, transparent local opioid surveillance and monitoring system by collecting and sharing best available evidence captured through various local services. Timely opioid surveillance reports will soon be shared regularly amongst community partners, and with the public. The attendees also discussed work on cross sector partnerships to build on work for a more coordinated response, advocacy for more harm reduction services like naloxone, and a public education campaign to promote safer drug use practices.
According to Ontario coroner data, there has been a general increase in the number of deaths due to opioid overdose in Hamilton from 2005 to 2014. From 2010 to 2014, there were an average of 30 deaths per year – there were 38 opioid related deaths in 2014. Preliminary reports from the Ontario Coroner indicate there were 47 deaths caused by opioids or a combination of opioids and alcohol in 2015.
In 2015, there were 199 emergency department visits and 89 hospitalizations for opioid poisoning among Hamilton residents
In 2016, 460 Naloxone kits were distributed by Public Health Services, and an estimated 190 lives were saved.
Between September 2016 and the beginning of January 2017, there were 28 calls in Hamilton where a paramedic administered Naloxone for opioid overdoses.
“The devastating impact of opioid misuse is a national, provincial, and city-wide problem that needs a city-wide solution. The commitment of front line service partners from the health system, housing, mental health & addictions, our first responders, towards tackling this complex issue is critical.”
His Worship Mayor Fred Eisenberger
“Through more systematic information we will be better able to put the pieces of the puzzle together to get a timelier and more complete picture of the local situation. Better information sharing and coordination of our efforts will enable all us to be more proactive and coordinated as we work to prevent and respond to increased overdoses.
Dr. Jessica Hopkins
Associate Medical Officer of Health
“Hamilton Health Sciences works closely with our partners to address opioid abuse and its consequences in Hamilton and south central Ontario. Our Emergency Department physicians and staff are well-trained to provide care for patients who present with symptoms of an opioid overdose. However, the best option is to work together to prevent drug overdoses from ever happening, using community-based addiction support and harm reduction.”
Dr. William Krizmanich
Chief, Emergency Medicine
Hamilton Health Sciences
“The care of patients with addictions is central to the Mission of St. Joseph’s Healthcare. We are keenly aware of the devastating effects of opioid addiction on our patients and their families. This is a serious community concern that requires a coordinated response so that we can provide the best services and health care to those struggling with addictions.”
Dr. Ian Preya
Vice Chief of staff and Chief of Emergency Medicine
St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton