Health & Wellness

Hunterdon Medical Center Helps Craft Opioid Policy for Schools

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FLEMINGTON, NJ – A bill crafted by Hunterdon Medical Center and state Sen. “Kip” Bateman would require schools to develop policies to treat overdoses by administering opioid antidotes, such as Narcan.

The Senate has approved the bill.

Bateman worked to develop the legislation with Janice Wagner, who is Director of Intensive Care and Respiratory Therapy at Hunterdon Medical Center.

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“Teenagers are highly susceptible to the devastating impact of opioid abuse in,” said Bateman in a press release. “We can save lives by having Narcan on school grounds, or we can lose them waiting for an ambulance to arrive. It is time to arm the people we entrust to care for our children with the same lifesaving tool used by first responders in every county in this state.”

The bipartisan bill permits school nurses to administer an opioid antidote to a student or staff member who overdoses at school. It also requires high schools - and permits all other schools -  to maintain a supply of naloxone hydrochloride.

The legislation amends the Overdose Prevention Act to include schools, school districts, and school nurses among the recipients that may be prescribed the opioid antidote naloxone hydrochloride through a standing order.

Under the bill, opioid antidotes must be accessible in the school during regular school hours and during school-sponsored functions that take place in the school or on school grounds adjacent to the school building.

The school nurse would have the primary responsibility for the emergency administration of an opioid antidote. However, school officials can designate additional employees who volunteer to administer an opioid antidote when the nurse is not physically present at the scene.

The state Department of Education would be responsible for establishing guidelines for school districts in developing policies associated with this legislation, including training requirements.

“I am proud to partner with people like Janice Wagner who recognized that we cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that the disease of addiction has found its way into our schools and classrooms,” Bateman said.

Ocean County became the first county in New Jersey to supply all of its high school nurses with Narcan in 2016. “It’s time for us to give every school statewide a legal right to save lives,” Bateman said.

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