By Jeff Todd

ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – A group of Colorado health care workers are continuing a push to lower opioid overdose deaths. The Colorado Naloxone Project has expanded its pilot programs into two labor and delivery units in the state hoping to prevent pregnant women or new moms from an increasing threat.

(credit: CBS)

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“We feel like it can help reduce the mortality associated with substance use disorders. This allows us to give them the resource. In the event that they were to have an event at home,” said Jennifer Holloway, the Clinical Nurse Coordinator in the labor and delivery unit at Swedish Medical Center.

“You are giving the drug to them in their hand, and they are able to take it home,” said Dr. Rachael Duncan, the Clinical Pharmacy Expert for the Colorado Naloxone project. “We also provide overdose education both for that patient and any family member, caretaker, or friend that happens to be with them. Because of course when you have an opiate overdose, you’re not usually the person that isn’t self-administering that Naloxone.”

The Colorado Naloxone Project started with the hopes of getting emergency rooms to hand out Naloxone to patients who met a criteria. Now 100 hospitals around the state are onboard. Duncan says the non-profit started looking beyond emergency rooms and into in-patient wings of the hospital.

(credit: CBS)

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“Just keeping that incredibly vulnerable population safe, seemed like a very obvious place to start,” she said. “If they’re going home with an opiate after a C-section, or an identified opioid use disorder, whether that’s through prescription opioids, whether that’s through, injectable heroin, maybe they stopped using and got on Suboxone or methadone during pregnancy; but now they’re incredibly vulnerable and are having some postpartum depression use again, there’s such high risk for overdosing.”

A report last year to the Colorado state legislature said overdose was the second highest cause of death for pregnant women or women in their first year after childbirth. Suicide was the leading cause of death.

“We, as a team, screen every patient that walks in for drug, alcohol use, or history of, and if they have screened positive, they really are a candidate to go home with the Narcan (the generic form of Naloxone). It gives, not only themselves, but the people around them the opportunity to potentially save their life,” Holloway said.

(credit: CBS)

The Colorado Naloxone Project says it’s working off grants but is hoping to find more funding to get more lifesaving doses out into the public. If the labor and delivery pilot program is a success, the next step could be getting post-surgical patients to leave the hospital with Naloxone.

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“I think it has far-reaching effects for our whole community,” Holloway said.

Jeff Todd