Opioid overdoses were up in Jacksonville again last year, but the city is testing a program officials believe will save lives.
In 2017, JFRD transported more than 3,500 patients who overdosed on opioids, an increase of nearly 400 from the year before.
Zip code 32210 near the city’s west side had 12 percent of the overdoses, the highest amount.
The city is funding a pilot program to deal with the opioid issue that treats overdose patients who are brought to St. Vincent’s in Riverside.
The patients are given medication to treat withdrawal symptoms and are then connected with recovery peer specialists and assessed by mental health workers.
That’s when they may be directed to outpatient or residential treatment. Others that don’t need it will simply have therapy over the phone multiple times per week.
“The premise now is, let’s get you living, let’s keep you alive,” said Dr. Raymond Pomm. “Let’s get you as stable as possible, and then we can start working on recovery.”
Pomm said he’s surprised about the early success of the program.
Only two months into the program, he says only one patient out of 37 has overdosed since treatment.
The program is expected to begin at St. Vincent’s Southside next week, and may expand to St. Vincent’s Clay after that.