COVID patient numbers continue to hold steady at The University of Kansas Health System today. 36 with the active virus are being treated, down from 39 yesterday. Nine of those patients are in the ICU, down from 13 yesterday. Seven are on ventilators, down from nine yesterday. 24 other patients are still hospitalized because of COVID but are out of the acute infection phase, the same as yesterday. That’s a total of 60 patients, down slightly from 63 yesterday.
Opioid-related overdoses have been a nationwide problem. And in Kansas City alone, the number of opioid-related overdose deaths have increased 56 percent in 2020, according to the Missouri Health Dept.
A new treatment for opioid addiction, Sublocade, is providing help. Clint Adams was the first patient to try it at The University of Kansas Health System Addiction Treatment Center. Sublocade continuously releases medicine into the body for a month at sustained levels.
Nearly 20 years of opioid addiction took its toll on 38-year-old Adams. “I wasn’t a good worker, I wasn’t a good boyfriend, I just wasn’t a good person,” he said. “When you get to a certain point with opioids, all you do is you need to take them to function in life.”
Now, nearly a year after being treated with Sublocade, he is doing great.
“I stopped Sublocade about two months ago and I’m fine now,” he said. “It’s been a year and I’m very happy. Things are starting to get back to normal in my life.”
Dr. Roopa Sethi, Addiction Clinic Medical Director, said this injectable drug, available since 2017, is a slow-release liquid dose, that supplies a steady stream of medicine to avoid ups and downs.
Dr. Stephen Thornton, Emergency Medicine Medical Director, Poison Control Center, said he’s seen an upward trend in opioid overdoses before the pandemic, but has been seeing a lot more since the pandemic started.
“This synthetic opioid epidemic is so deadly because of fentanyl, you’re talking about a substance that’s 100 times more potent than heroin,” Dr. Thornton said. “If someone is using an opioid, it is probably fentanyl.”
Dr. Sethi also warned that any illegal drugs could unknowingly be laced with fentanyl, making them much more dangerous.
A good candidate for this treatment could be anyone who has an addition to opioids or heroin. However, every person is different, so treatments will need to be evaluated for each type of patient, according to Dr. Sethi. In terms of funding, most insurance pays for this, but there are programs that help fund uninsured or underinsured patients.
Sgt. Gary Blackwell, with the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, said that opioids are readily prevalent on the streets and 15- to 25-year-olds are the biggest demographic. NARCAN can help those who are currently over-dosing and police can administer it to help those they encounter who need help before they can get them more medical treatment.
Dr. Thornton said there are three important phases of opioid abuse:
- Education – What to avoid/how to avoid it
- Acute Treatment – Temporary life-saving measures (NARCAN)
- Longer-Term Treatment/Recovery – Longer-term plans for treating the addiction
Sgt. Blackwell said that family members, parents, and friends need to watch for symptoms of opioid abuse. “If you see the signs, you need to step in early,” he said.
Community questions included asking about Omicron, including how this variant will be different in places where Delta is already prevalent. Dr. Dana Hawkinson, medical director of Infection Prevention and Control at The University of Kansas Health System, said Delta continues to be prevalent, but early data shows that those who received boosters have a significant affect in decreasing likelihood of serious COVID infections from the Omicron variant.
Another question was asked about “stealth Omicron” that might evade rapid COVID tests. Dr. Hawkinson said that the Health System’s PCR tests are unaffected as well as many of the home tests, based on preliminary information.
Friday, December 10 at 8:00 a.m. is the next Morning Medical Update. With Omicron concerns growing along with COVID cases we are breaking down the numbers and what they mean as we head into the official start of winter. We are joined by expert and Chair, Division of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, University of St. Mary, Dr. Amber Schmidtke.
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