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Fighting the opioid crisis: Inside mountain ER's

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“Now we got to stop the flow of the heroin and the other stuff that they're going to replace it with coming in and then the other huge important thing is to get these people into rehab,” said Dr. Steven Motarjeme, Medical Director Park Ridge Health Emergency Department. Source: WLOS Staff

Welcome to ground zero in the nation's opioid crisis -- the emergency room.

“You'll see this influx of overdose patients over a week period of time and the obvious thing is to think something in-fluxed into the area,” said Dr. Steven Motarjeme, MD/Medical Director Park Ridge Health Emergency Department.

Since January 1, 2017 Park Ridge Health’s Emergency Department has seen 11 opiate overdoses, 8 heroin overdoses, and 34 others they suspect are fentanyl related.

Dr. Motarjeme, says in 2001 the licensing body for hospitals nationwide fed the opioid epidemic by directing doctors to better manage their patients' pain.

“They actually prosecuted docs that were not giving pain meds for, and there are a doc in California that actually went to jail because they weren't giving pain meds,” said Motarjeme.

Opioid prescriptions quadrupled every year since. Now there’s been a reversal. Park Ridge is ahead of the curve. They've been limiting acute pain prescriptions to three day doses, but that's sent those who get that euphoric feeling from a prescription in search of their new high on the street.

“You can see when you give it there are patients you give the pain meds to and they don't like it, they feel uncomfortable, it's miserable and there's other ones, that get this instant euphoria, they feel incredible and you know that's the person who's going to struggle with it,” said Motarjeme.

“Now we got to stop the flow of the heroin and the other stuff that they're going to replace it with coming in and then the other huge important thing is to get these people into rehab,” Motarjeme added.

Join News13 on the front line with the drug unit, community groups, parents and the state lab as we fight the heroin epidemic throughout the day Thursday in our evening news casts a different story at 5:00 PM, 5:30 PM, 6:00 PM and 11:00 PM and join us on Facebook live at 6:15 PM to ask questions of a peer counselor concerning the opioid crisis.

If you have questions you want answered, email Jennifer Emert at jmemert@wlos.com.



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