SUMMIT, NJ -- Overlook Medical Center in Summit and other Atlantic Health System hospitals are part of group of local hospitals that have agreed to replenish the police-administered naloxone supplies of all law enforcement agencies countywide free of charge, providing streamlined access to the medication that reverses the effects of otherwise potentially fatal drug overdoses.

The initiative was announced by acting Union County Prosecutor Grace H. Park, Atlantic Health System Director of Protection and Security Services/Emergency Management Alan J. Robinson, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Rahway President & CEO Kirk C. Tice, Trinitas Regional Medical Center President & CEO Gary S. Horan, and representatives of the Union County Police Chiefs Association and Union County Sheriff’s Office all jointly announced Thursday.

Atlantic Health System, Robert Wood Johnson-Rahway and Trinitas all recently signed memorandums of understanding with the Prosecutor’s Office pledging to provide new naloxone supplies on a quarterly, on-demand basis, with quantities dependent on how many departments need to replace used or expired stock.  

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“We greatly appreciate our partnership with Atlantic Health, Robert Wood Johnson, and Trinitas,” Prosecutor Park said earlier this week, when representatives of the hospitals met with members of law enforcement at the Ralph Froehlich Union County Public Safety Building in Westfield to mark the launch of the agreements. “This is a testament to the fact that when it comes to the fight against prescription drug and opioid abuse, we’re all in this together.”

The memorandums of understanding are valid for a period of two years and can be renewed. The Prosecutor’s Office and members of the administrative teams at the three hospitals also agreed to meet semi-annually to review the rate of police-administered use of naloxone (also known by its brand name, Narcan) in Union County and to adjust distribution accordingly.

“Atlantic Health System and the law enforcement agencies of Union County have a common goal to protect the well-being of the people who live in our communities,” Robinson said. “Through this donation, we hope to not only save lives, but to also give those who need it another chance to live healthier.”

Use of naloxone by law enforcement officers in Union County began in July 2014, when the Prosecutor’s Office distributed a total of 200 Narcan kits to the county’s 21 municipal police departments. Federal forfeiture funds were used to cover the initial costs, and officers in every department underwent training illustrating precisely how to administer the medication via nasal spray to citizens suffering a drug overdose.

Police departments in Union County reported a combined total of 62 naloxone deployments in 2015. Through October 27, 2016, a total of 128 deployments had been reported to date during the current year, with all but four of the 128 recipients having survived.

A total of 231 people have suffered fatal drug overdoses in Union County since 2011, according to statistics kept by the Prosecutor’s Office’s Intelligence Unit. That figure includes 34 victims to date in 2016.