School boards, health unit, police to address fentanyl use in community

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By Nick Seebruch
School boards, health unit, police to address fentanyl use in community

CORNWALL, Ontario – The region’s two English language school boards the public Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), the Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), as well as the Eastern Ontario Health Unit (EOHU) and Cornwall Police Service (CPS) are partnering to address the issue of fentanyl use among youth in the community.

Fentanyl is a powerful opioid linked to a rise in overdoses in the Cornwall region and across North America. Twice so far in 2021 the CPS and the EOHU have issued joint statements on the dangers of opioid use.

“This is a worrying trend because these opioids are stronger and causing more overdoses in users,” says Dr. Paul Roumeliotis, Medical Officer of Health at the EOHU. “I can’t stress how important it is for all users to have Naloxone on hand when they are using these drugs. I am also concerned because Naloxone is not effective on individuals who have overdosed on benzodiazepines. This is why I strongly urge anyone who suspects a person is having an overdose to call 911 right away, even before they administer naloxone.”

“Opioids are endangering the lives of vulnerable members of our community and we are dependent on everyone to take this messaging seriously,” said CPS Inspector of Field Operations, Chad Maxwell. “We are asking the public to please help us spread the word to friends and family members who suffer from addiction and opioid use disorder to assure them that help is available.”

In the 12 months between April 2019 and March 2020, there were 35 emergency department visits to hospitals in Prescott-Russell, SDG Counties, and the City of Cornwall. Between April 2020 and December 2020, that number increased to at least 75 visits.

The four organizations will be holding a virtual joint Q&A on the evening of Thursday, May 27.

The event will be comprised of a series of panelists presenting information followed by questions from the public.

The speakers panel will include the following:

  • Mark Barnes – Director of Community Outreach and Overdose Prevention – Respect Rx Pharmacy
  • Chad Brownlee – Principal of Safe Schools – Upper Canada District School Board
  • Dan Cloutier – Constable – Cornwall Police Services
  • Nikolas Hotte – Program Manager, Hospitals & Boards of Public Health – Eastern Ontario Health Unit
  • Norma McDonald – Superintendent of School Effectiveness – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
  • Marsha McNair – Superintendent of School Operations – Upper Canada District School Board
  • Michelle Neville – Mental Health Lead – Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario
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