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New Opioid Data and Strategies Rolling Out in Snohomish County

Multi-pronged approaches are key to turning the tide

New Opioid Data and Strategies Rolling Out in Snohomish County

Multi-pronged approaches are key to turning the tide


SNOHOMISH COUNTY, Wash. – A recent report issued by the Washington State Department of Health (DOH), in collaboration with local partners, highlighted the growing problem of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids in Washington. Of the 70 people that died from overdose after using Fentanyl or similar compounds in 2016, Snohomish County’s 11 deaths represented the second highest total in the state.

Along with this new report on synthetic opioids, updated data for heroin and opioid-related deaths has been made available by the Snohomish Health District. The chart below reflects the final numbers for 2015, and preliminary information for 2016, which is subject to change.


 Source: Snohomish Health District


While the decrease in deaths is a good sign, it does not necessarily mean heroin and opioid use is declining. The increased availability of naloxone—a medicine that temporarily stops the effect of opioids and can prevent an overdose—means less people are dying, but usage is likely unchanged.

Thanks to a grant received from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and DOH, the Snohomish Health District has partnered with Providence Health & Services on a pilot project aimed at tracking opioid-related overdoses in the emergency department. Providence has also hired a nurse using the Health District’s grant funds to help connect overdose patients with case management services after discharge.

“This is a cutting-edge pilot project that has involved a lot of collaboration with Providence, DOH and the CDC,” said Nancy Furness, prevention services director for the Snohomish Health District. “We are looking forward to being fully implemented, and hopefully receiving additional grant funding to extend this effort with other partners in the community.”

In the first quarter that the Everett campus has started collecting data, numbers indicate that most overdoses are not repeat patients and they span all ages.


Opioid-Related Overdoses Seen in PRCME’s ED

January 1 – March 31, 2017


Source: Providence Regional Medical Center Everett


“The burden of disease is high in Snohomish County, so this partnership is a good opportunity to reach out to patients in a new way,” said Dr. Ryan Keay, medical director for Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s emergency department. “This is just the tip of the iceberg since we’re only tracking and connecting to patients coming into our emergency department here in Everett.”

In addition to expanded reporting and access to care opportunities, public health plays an essential role in substance use prevention. Medicine take-back programs are part of a comprehensive approach to preventing prescription drug abuse, as well as a secure and environmentally sound way to dispose of leftover or expired medicines. The Board of Health became second in the state and eighth in the nation to adopt a countywide secure medicine return ordinance in late-2016. The Snohomish Health District has now officially approved the pharmaceutical stewardship plan submitted by MED-Project, who also operates a similar plan in King County.

RESOURCE: MED-Project’s Product Stewardship Plan for Unwanted Medicines

­The Health District will be responsible for oversight of MED-Project, ensuring their operations comply with the local regulations. MED-Project will start community outreach efforts soon as they prepare to begin serving Snohomish County by July 5.

The Snohomish Health District works for a safer and healthier community through disease prevention, health promotion, and protection from environmental threats. To read more about the District and for important health information, visit