Palm Beach County to open ER for opioid overdose patients

Palm Beach County in Florida plans to launch an emergency room dedicated exclusively to people who overdose on opioids to provide faster treatment, according to a Sun-Sentinel report.

The center could accept up to 14 patients at once, according to plans reviewed by county commissioners Feb. 6. However, the service may not be up and running for at least six months as officials have yet to determine a construction site for the facility.

Palm Beach County had approximately 600 fatal overdose calls last year. Paramedics handled around 5,000 overdose calls during the same time frame.

In response to the high number of overdoses, county commissioners devoted $3 million in local tax dollars as part of a plan approved in April. Commissioners voted to spend $500,000 of those funds on adding emergency beds while officials find a site to house the emergency center.

The addiction emergency center will connect patients with therapy and medication-assisted treatment to curb withdrawal symptoms, said Becky Walker, director of network management for the Southeast Florida Behavioral Health Network.

Ms. Walker is also trying to encourage more private providers to offer free beds to uninsured patients and working to open a 14-bed drug treatment unit at the Delray Beach, Fla.-based South County Mental Health Center.

More articles on EDs: 
UCLA opens California's first adolescent psychiatric ER
Baltimore's school-based health centers help curb pediatric ER visits: 6 things to know
Why one Oregon hospital thinks their ED expansion can boost the local economy

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