BRADENTON – Manatee Memorial Hospital staff say they saw 33 opioid overdoses in just one shift in Winter 2016.
They’ve implemented the ALTO program, which provides alternative treatments for pain, rather than defaulting to opioids.
Congressman Vern Buchanan (R), who visited the hospital Monday, hopes this is just the beginning of alternative drug initiatives.
“I am very impressed with Manatee Memorial, the hospital here, taking a leadership role,” Buchanan said. “This is something I believe we can roll out to other hospitals across the state.”
He says the focus should be on prevention.
“I mean we gotta work more on treatment, but we can’t let people get in this shape in the first place,” Buchanan said.
He’s troubled by a statistic he heard during his visit to Manatee Memorial – that five to ten percent of people who take just the first opioid could get addicted.
“..and could be dead during a short period of time,” Buchanan said. “I have mothers that came eight years ago to me; they lost both their sons. One of my best friends lost his son.”
He says if we can’t prevent opioid use, we have to at least reduce it.
“..[reduce] the amount of drugs they’re administering, the hospitals, a third or fifty percent, whatever that number might be, you’re gonna kill a lot less people,” Buchanan said.
That’s the result he thinks will come from programs like ALTO.
He hopes legislators will put political affiliations aside to focus on the bigger picture.
“I’d like to bring the Florida delegation together, Democrats and Republicans, and look at this process. We’re losing too many young people, older people,” Buchanan said. “It’s gotta stop.”
Congressman Buchanan introduced his 7-point plan to fight the opioid epidemic last month.