ShareThis Page
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh stocks opioid antidote |

Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh stocks opioid antidote

The Associated Press
| Thursday, November 9, 2017 10:15 a.m
Erica Dietz | Trib Total Media
A naloxone nasal injection device

If an opioid overdose occurs at a Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh facility, trained staff members will be ready.

Naloxone, a drug that can reverse the effects of an opioid overdose, is available at the library system’s 19 locations after the Allegheny County Health Department trained library staff in how to use the nasal spray, library spokeswoman Suzanne Thinnes said. Opioid overdoses occasionally have occurred at libraries, she said.

“Libraries are microcosms of the community and, unfortunately, are not immune to the opioid epidemic,” she said, adding that patrons are not permitted to use drugs in library facilities. “Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh is a public space, open to everyone. We want to be responsive to our community needs as opioid overdoses and deaths in Pittsburgh and Allegheny County continue to rise.”

While police and paramedics routinely revive victims of drug overdoses in a national epidemic, the types of community members who are considered first responders in the crisis are changing. The health department and Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission have distributed naloxone to a variety of groups, including firefighters, shelters, probation officials and others.

In a program led by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, libraries are eligible to receive more than 60,000 kits of naloxone available through $5 million in state funding.

In Allegheny County, 650 people died last year of drug overdoses, up from 424 in 2015. In Westmoreland County, 174 people died of a drug overdose in 2016, compared to 124 people in 2015.

The training was important to help Carnegie Library staff members, while also helping authorities learn more about where drug overdoses are happening, said Dr. Karen Hacker, director of the Allegheny County Health Department. Any public place can be the setting for a person to overdose, she said.

“To some extent, that’s been educational to us as well,” she said.

The training included information about using the nasal spray as well as how to help someone who has been revived, such as directing them to treatment resources and calling an ambulance. Thinnes compared the training to that for other emergencies, such as CPR or the use of an AED, which staff members also have. The naloxone kits have not been used since being stocked in the early summer, she said.

“It is the responsible thing to do,” she said.

Libraries around the country are stocking naloxone after experiencing problems with drug use in their facilities, from overdose deaths to used needles. Libraries in Reading and Philadelphia have reported a number of overdoses.

Westmoreland Library Network staff members received training a year ago about the epidemic, but there hasn’t been a need to have naloxone at the facilities, said Cesare Muccari, library network director.

“In the library, we haven’t seen anything, certainly not like I’ve heard in Reading and Philadelphia,” Muccari said.

Westmoreland Drug and Alcohol Commission officials hope to expand the number of locations where naloxone is stocked with the kits they will receive through the new state program, said Liz Comer, director of clinical and case management services.

“We have a whole list of individuals who we’re looking to reach out to, and libraries are on that list,” she said.

Renatta Signorini is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-837-5374, or via Twitter @byrenatta.

Categories: Regional
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.