Naloxone policy in motion for NPSD

Naloxone Hydrochloride

Associated Press

Naloxone Hydrochloride

TOWAMENCIN – “It will save lives.” said Head Nurse Karen Skillman.

In her first year as a nurse at North Penn High school, Karen Skillman is already making an impact as she gives her input on the new Narcan policy being proposed to the school board this fall. Almost everyday, it is becoming more apparent that the public should be taking steps to help combat the rampant opioid epidemic, and this new policy will bring the drug Narcan into all of the district’s buildings. Narcan is to be used if any person in the building is suspected of suffering an opioid overdose. Also known as Naloxone, it is used to treat an opioid emergency such as an overdose or a possible overdose of a narcotic medicine. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin or into a muscle, and it can help a patient within minutes.

The exact purpose of the policy, which was initiated by Assistant Superintendent Dr. Diane Holben, is that it “legally permits a person who is in a position to assist a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose to administer naloxone.”

“If it’s given in a situation where they are not overdosing, it’s not going to hurt them” said Skillman.

According to Skillman, because the drug has a short half-life, it will be out of a person’s body very quickly. It is also not known to have many negative effects. However in rare cases, Narcan has caused stomach pains, body aches, and difficulty breathing.

When asked about whether or not she believed the opioid epidemic was a large enough issue to enact such a policy Skillman said, “Absolutely, 100%.” This is especially because, according to the Philadelphia Department of Health, in 2016 alone, more than 900 people in the Philadelphia area died of an overdose. Each year the numbers are rising steadily.

Although Narcan would be available in all buildings, only school nurses would be able to administer the drug, which is more restrictive than that of other school districts. Therefore, if there were an after school event in which no nurse was in the building, it would be up to paramedics and police officers, who carry Narcan, to distribute it.

There will be a free supply of doses given to buildings who are home to grades 7-12, while the elementary schools will have to buy their supply. Once the singular dose in a building is used, each additional dose will cost roughly 75 dollars.

During last week’s school board meeting on September 13th, the policy was first introduced to the board. It could be brought up again at a committee meeting on October 16th before it is to be voted on at the 19th of October.

This fall, the school board and all those involved believe it will be a quick and easy vote into action. However, Mrs. Skillman claims, “It is still a process,” because of distribution and the time needed to train the forty plus nurses in the district. All board meeting records can be found on the North Penn School District website.