State releases opioid data showing hospitals’ increased role

Recorder Staff

Monday, July 31, 2017
GREENFIELD — To no surprise to Baystate Franklin Medical Center officials, state data shows the number of opioid-related hospital discharges from 2011 to 2015 more than doubling in Franklin County.

An analysis of data from the Massachusetts Health Policy Commission shows that Baystate Franklin Medical Center reflects trends across the state, where nearly every area saw increases.

Statewide, heroin-related discharges grew 256 percent, while all other opioid-related discharges grew 50 percent. The biggest spikes from 2011 to 2015 came from patients ages 25 to 34, seeing a 192 percent increase in opioid-related discharges, followed by patients ages 35 to 44 at a 75 percent increase.

Locally, the state’s latest statistics show that Baystate Franklin Medical Center dealt with a 116 percent increase in opioid-related discharges from 2011 to 2015.

The biggest jump involved Greenfield residents, with the hospital seeing nearly double the amount of residents discharged with opioid-related issues, from 123 to 241 over that time frame.

Data was measured by zip codes, which do not perfectly match up with the towns in the county. The 2015 data includes residents of Greenfield, Erving, Millers Falls, Northfield, Orange, Shelburne Falls, Sunderland and Turners Falls. While in 2011, the data only included residents from Greenfield, Orange, Shelburne Falls and Turners Falls.

This does not mean that residents from other towns were not discharged from the hospital with opioid-related issues, but that these locations had less than 11 residents in the year who were discharged with those issues — the state’s data tracked areas with at least 11 residents with opioid-related discharges.

Despite more patients coming into the hospital with opioid-related issues, Baystate Franklin Medical Center Dr. Julie Thompson, who sits on the Opioid Task Force, noted they are coming after receiving the nasal-spray Narcan, which helps prevent an overdose from becoming lethal.

“Our providers in the emergency room have noted that a larger proportion of patients arriving after overdosing on opioids have received Narcan from family and friends,” Thompson said. “It is good to see that Narcan prevalence in the community has increased.”

The task force, along with other service providers in the area, have worked to increase access to Narcan. Local police forces have thanked the task force and other groups that have helped to supply them with Narcan.

Thompson said to continue to combat issues with the opioid-epidemic, the hospital is working with Clinical & Support Options (CSO) and Center for Human Development (CHD) to give providers education on trauma informed care.

“Much still needs to be done to improve care and reduce risks associated with opiates,” Thompson said. “We seek to improve access to primary care providers and mental health care.”

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:

413-772-0261, ext. 264

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