Cocalico board takes step to make Naxolone available

By on January 25, 2017

Cocalico will likely become the latest Lancaster County school district to stock the heroin antidote Naloxone.

The school board took a preliminary vote at its Monday, Jan. 23, meeting in favor of a policy allowing the district to keep the medication on hand in case of an opioid overdose.

If passed in final form, the measure will pave the way for Cocalico to obtain a two-dose package of Narcan, the nasal form of Naloxone, immediately.

Nurses in at least nine local districts are already empowered to administer Naloxone in an emergency. Most have access to a nasal spray; Warwick School District originally acquired the injectable form.

“We had initially wanted to see how it was going in other districts,” Cocalico Superintendent Dr. Ella Musser said after the board meeting. “We are looking to move forward now.”

Last February, Gov. Tom Wolf announced a limited supply of Narcan would be available to all public schools in the state through a partnership with Adapt Pharma and the Clinton Health Matters Initiative.

At the start of the 2016-17 school year, Musser said the district was still taking a “wait-and-see approach.” But after hearing that other school nurses felt comfortable with the possibility of administering the drug, Cocalico got a standing order for it from Ephrata Community Hospital Nurse Tammy Frey also completed state Department of Health training.

The policy is the last step required to become eligible for the free, state-supplied Narcan.

Ephrata School District stocks Narcan at both its high school and middle school.

Administering Narcan can reverse breathing problems caused by illegal opioids like heroin or prescription medications including morphine and oxycodone. The spray can block potentially deadly opioids from receptors in the brain. It cannot be used to get a person high, and it does not have significant side effects if given to someone who has not overdosed.

Proponents of keeping the antidote in public buildings say it can buy precious time, especially in rural areas where first responders might take longer to respond to a 911 call.

All police departments in the county have access to Narcan through the Lancaster County district attorney’s office.

An American Medical Association task force has endorsed widespread access to Naloxone and broad Good Samaritan protections for non-medical professionals who aid someone experiencing an overdose.

Pennsylvania’s physician general has also issued a standing order that serves as a Naloxone prescription that anyone can use. The order is kept on file at many pharmacies and can also be downloaded from the Department of Health website.


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