Overdose Medication Distribution Planned For Smyrna Wednesday

Commissioner Navarro to provide Naloxone kits and training at event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, in collaboration with Public Health’s Kent County Community Response Team, the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, and the Smyrna-Clayton Ministerium will provide free training and opioid rescue kits to residents on Wednesday, October 14 from 2:00 to 5:00PM. The event, taking place outdoors at the First Presbyterian Church of Smyrna, 118 W. Commerce St. will offer both drive-through and walk up options in order to maintain social distancing.

“Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we can’t forget about the opioid epidemic. Addiction has its grip on our community, and with this event and others, we can make sure that Naloxone gets to individuals and families who may need it during an opioid overdose emergency” said Commissioner Navarro. “While we continue to work to ensure that treatment for those with drug dependencies is affordable and accessible, events like these offer an opportunity to increase awareness and education life-saving techniques and tools.”

Attendees will spend roughly ten minutes being trained to recognize and respond to an opioid overdose emergency, as well as learning about local treatment and support resources. Opioid Rescue Kits, each containing two doses of Naloxone, an opioid overdose reversal medication, will be distributed. Residents who are at risk of experiencing and overdose, or individuals whose loved ones may be at risk, are strongly encouraged to attend.

If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.

NOTE TO MEDIA: If you plan to attend, please RSVP to Christina.Haas@Delaware.gov.


Commissioner Navarro Partners with Aquila to Distribute Overdose Medication

Will provide Naloxone kits and training at Seaford event

Insurance Commissioner Trinidad Navarro, the Town of Seaford, and Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware have joined forces to deliver life-saving overdose reversal medication to residents on July 27 from 4:00 to 6:00PM at Williams Pond Park. Free opioid rescue kits provided by the Division of Public Health, will be distributed car-side to attendees along with trainings of how the product should be used. Each kit has two doses of Naloxone.

“I am proud to join Aquila in offering life-saving overdose reversal kits to residents. For individuals who are facing the struggle of addiction, or those who have family members or friends in this fight, a naloxone kit is a must-have. For those in this situation, having naloxone on hand is like having an airbag in your vehicle – we hope that you won’t need to use it, but it is important to have one because it could save a life” said Commissioner Navarro.

Coverage for mental health has been a priority of the Commissioner. Efforts include working with the General Assembly and insurers to require coverage for serious mental illnesses including addiction, creating Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act reporting requirements, and ensuring that medication-assisted treatment for those with drug and alcohol dependencies can be accessible.

The event comes as the Delaware is seeing increased overdose rates during the coronavirus pandemic, with 39 suspected overdose deaths in May, tying the highest monthly total. As of the end of May, 160 suspected overdose deaths have occurred in Delaware, a 60% increase over a similar period of 2019.

“Aquila is pleased to partner with the Insurance Commissioner and the Town of Seaford to ensure Naloxone gets into the hands and homes of all individuals who may need it to keep their loved ones safe – we know that nobody chooses addiction, and by making this opioid reversal drug available, we can give individuals another chance to get treatment. Thank you to Public Health for continuing to provide these kits to the community,” said Amy Kevis, Director of Development for Aquila Behavioral Health of Delaware. Aquila provides comprehensive psychiatric and substance abuse treatment statewide. Learn more by calling (302) 999-1106.

The Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health launched the 24/7 Hope line to serve as a single point of contact for resources, info, clinical and peer support, and crisis assistance. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait, find help today. Call 1-833-9-HOPEDE or visit HelpisHereDE.com.

Any residents having problems obtaining insurance approval for treatment or prescriptions related to substance abuse or mental health needs, contact the Delaware Department of Insurance’s Consumer Services Division by emailing consumer@delaware.gov or calling (302) 674-7300.

Event attendees and media representatives must observe social distancing and wear a face covering.


Suspected Overdose Deaths for May in Delaware Tie Previous Monthly High Set in 2018

Health Officials Fear Rising Death Toll May Be Consequence of COVID-19

NEW CASTLE (June 16, 2020) – In what Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) officials fear may be a consequence of the uncertainty associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, deaths from suspected overdoses in Delaware during May tied a previous monthly total set in 2018, according to death investigation reports from the Division of Forensic Science.

In May 2020, 39 people died from suspected overdoses in Delaware. That ties the previous monthly high total set in August 2018. Among the 39 deaths in May, 20 were from New Castle County, 14 from Sussex County and five from Kent County.

Through May 31, 160 people have died from suspected overdoses in Delaware. That total is a 60% increase over a similar period in 2019 and a 48% increase over the same period in 2018.

“We are worried about the impact that COVID-19 is having on Delawareans who already are struggling with substance use disorder,” said DHSS Secretary Dr. Kara Odom Walker, a practicing family physician. “The pandemic is difficult for all of us emotionally, but none more so than people struggling with addiction, mental illness or both. And with such public health measures as social distancing in place to reduce people’s risk for COVID-19, treatment referrals for those with substance use disorder can be more difficult to access and the actual treatment can look different than what people are used to receiving.”

To help Delawareans cope with stress and address behavioral health needs during the coronavirus pandemic, DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health in May launched the 24/7 Delaware Hope Line – a single point of contact where callers can connect to a variety of resources and information, including support from clinicians and peer specialists plus crisis assistance. For support, Delawareans can:

  • Reach the free Hope Line at 1-833-9-HOPEDE or 1-833-946-7333.
  • Get behavioral health tips and reminders by texting DEHOPE to 55753.
  • Search for treatment services and resources in Delaware or nearby states at DHSS’ one-stop website, HelpIsHereDE.com.

Elizabeth Romero, director of the Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health (DSAMH), urged individuals in active substance use to consult with a medical provider immediately or to call the Delaware Hope Line to be connected to trained crisis professionals who can discuss treatment options. “We know this pandemic has been especially difficult for those with substance use disorder,”

Romero said. “The Hope Line can help. Every call is answered by a trained crisis counselor, 24/7, ready to assist you in any way.”

Romero said the division is preparing for the correlating wave of despair with providers and increasing access to care and flexibility with telehealth. DHSS’ Division of Substance Abuse and Mental Health and Division of Public Health also have teamed up with several partners across the state to provide naloxone, a medication that can reverse an opioid overdose. A key partnership with the Food Bank of Delaware provides drive-through food pantry and life-saving naloxone distribution. These events will happen across the state in the upcoming weeks. “If you have a loved one with substance use disorder, please have naloxone on hand,” Romero said.

The increase in deaths from suspected overdoses during the first half of 2020 follows another increase in overdose deaths for all of 2019. In its annual report for 2019, the Division of Forensic Science reported 431 overdose deaths, an increase of almost 8% over 2018. The 431 deaths by county:

  • New Castle County: 278
  • Sussex County: 100
  • Kent County: 53

Of the 431 total deaths, the Division reported that 341 (79%) involved fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever that is 50-100 times more potent than morphine. The percentage of total cases in 2019 involving fentanyl was 5 percentage points higher than in 2018.

Romero encouraged anyone who is using or suffering from addiction to call for help, see a medical provider, or ask a police officer or another first responder for help. “Too many times, our police officers, EMTs and other first responders see first-hand the dangers of overdoses,” she said. “Our first priority is to save lives.”

Under Delaware’s 911/Good Samaritan Law, people who call 9-1-1 to report an overdose and the person in medical distress cannot be arrested for low-level drug crimes.

Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay urged those in active use to get naloxone through one of DSAMH’s Bridge Clinics, at a participating pharmacy – where no prescription is required – or at a naloxone training.

“Naloxone saves lives,” said Division of Public Health Director Dr. Karyl Rattay. “We urge anyone who needs access to naloxone to go to a Bridge Clinic, a training class or distribution event, or to a participating pharmacy to buy the overdose-reversing medication. We also encourage Delawareans to download OpiRescue Delaware, a smartphone app that provides lifesaving step-by-step instructions on how to respond to an overdose, including administration of naloxone.” To find the Bridge Clinic in your county, training or distribution events, or a participating pharmacy, go to HelpIsHereDE.com, and click on the overdose prevention tab.


DPH Encourages Residents to Participate in National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day

DOVER – On Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, Delaware residents can safely dispose of their unused or expired prescription medications at designated sites throughout the state as part of the 18th National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day.

Organized nationally by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Division of Public Health (DPH) operates the event at the local level. The twice-a-year event is aimed at reducing the risk of prescription medications being diverted for misuse, and has resulted in over 85,000 pounds of medication being collected since 2010. Properly discarding unused medications is an important tool for keeping prescription medications out of the hands of people who may misuse, abuse, or sell them, and helps reduce the risk of drug overdoses.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 9.9 million Americans misused controlled prescription drugs. The study shows that a majority of abused prescription drugs were obtained from family and friends, often from the home medicine cabinet.

“Addiction oftentimes begins with prescription medications,” said Dr. Karyl Rattay, director of Delaware’s Division of Public Health. “Unsecured prescriptions can be misused or stolen, or worse, they can become the gateway to illicit drugs such as heroin or fentanyl. The best way to stop addiction is to prevent it. Disposing of unused or expired medications is the best way to keep yourself or your loved ones safe.”

Delaware has the highest rate of high-dose and long-acting opioid prescriptions written in the nation, and has the sixth-highest drug overdose rate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unused medications when not disposed of, can lead to misuse, accidental overdose or poisoning. It is a public health and safety issue.

In 2018, 400 people died from drug overdoses in Delaware, according to the state’s Division of Forensic Science, an increase of 15 percent from the 346 individuals who died in 2017. Many of those overdoses involved opioids.

Last April, Delaware residents returned 4,693 pounds of unused or expired prescription medications at 26 collection sites throughout the state. DPH leadership is encouraging residents to return even more medications at the October event.

The service is free, and no personal information will be collected at drop-off locations. Medications for disposal must be in a container such as a pill bottle, box, blister pack, or zipped plastic bag, with personal information removed. Liquid medications must be in their original containers. Needles, aerosols, biohazard materials, medical equipment and batteries will not be accepted.

In Delaware, the following locations will accept medications between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.:

KENT COUNTY
• Delaware State Police Troop 3, 3759 South State St., Camden-Wyoming
• Dover Place, 1203 Walker Road, Dover
• Atlantic Apothecary, 103 S. Dupont Blvd., Smyrna

NEW CASTLE COUNTY
• Delaware City Police Dept., 407 Clinton St., Delaware City
• Middletown Police Dept., 130 Hampden Road, Middletown
• New Castle County Airport, 151 North Dupont Highway, New Castle
• Christiana Care SurgiCenter, 4755 Ogletown-Stanton Road, Newark
• Delaware State Police Troop 2, 100 Lagrange Ave., Newark
• Newark Police Dept., 220 South Main St., Newark
• Shipley Manor Nursing Home, 2723 Shipley Road, Wilmington
• Wilmington VA Hospital, 1601 Kirkwood Highway, Wilmington

SUSSEX COUNTY
• Delaware State Police Troop 7, 18006 Coastal Highway, Lewes
• Lewes Ferry Terminal, 43 Cape Henlopen Drive, Lewes
• Milford Police Department, 400 NE Front St., Milford
• Milton Police Department, 101 Federal St., Milton
• Ocean View Police Dept., 201 Central Ave., Ocean View
• CVS Pharmacy, 36252 Lighthouse Road, Selbyville
• Selbyville Town Hall, 1 W. Church St., Selbyville

While National Prescription Take-Back Day happens only twice a year, it is important for Delaware residents to know that they can drop off their unused or expired prescription medications year-round at any of the state’s 21 designated drop-box locations. Visit https://www.helpisherede.com/Get-Help/Prescription-Drug-Drop-Box for a list of disposal sites in New Castle, Kent and Sussex counties.

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person’s spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com.

Delaware’s Department of Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware’s citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, and drink almost no sugary beverages.


Secretary of State Announces Medical License and Controlled Substance Privileges Suspension

DOVER – Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock has suspended the Delaware medical license and controlled substance prescribing privileges of Ifeanyi Udezulu for repeatedly failing to adhere to state regulations for the safe prescribing of opioid medications.

In making this determination, Secretary Bullock considered a complaint filed by the Department of Justice, which alleged that Mr. Udezulu repeatedly prescribed opioid medications to patients without obtaining informed consent, discussing the risks associated with such medications, or conducting meaningful patient evaluations or examinations. The complaint further alleged that Mr. Udezulu ignored “red flags” that signaled misuse, abuse, or diversion of the medications he had prescribed.

The order suspending Mr. Udezulu’s medical license was signed by the secretary with the concurrence of the president of the Board of Medical Licensure and Discipline. The secretary had sole authority to suspend Mr. Udezulu’s Controlled Substance Registration.

Delaware Code Title 24 enables a temporary suspension pending a hearing to be issued upon the written order of the Secretary of State, if the activity of the licensee presents a clear and immediate danger to public health, safety or welfare.

The suspension of Mr. Udezulu will remain in effect for a period of 60 days, during which time disciplinary hearings will be held or the final disposition for this individual will take place. As the result of a hearing, the Board of Medical Licensure and has the authority to impose disciplinary sanctions up to and including revocation of a practitioner’s license. The secretary has the authority to impose disciplinary sanctions up to and including revocation of the Controlled Substance Registration.

The licensure status of Mr. Udezulu has been updated on the Division of Professional Regulation’s online license verification service. Documentation related to this suspension also may be viewed at this site.