Project Save Lives could impact statewide opioid epidemic battle

Program offers immediate in-hospital treatment for overdose patients

By Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The way opioid overdose patients are getting help in Jacksonville could impact the state. 

Two months ago, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry signed the final papers to enact Project Save Lives, a program that offers immediate treatment for overdose patients while they are at the hospital.

The city's opioid special committee told News4Jax that so far the program is saving lives. 

Since its inception, Project Save Lives has helped people become drug-free and reduce the amount of repeat overdose patients. 

For two years, Jacksonville has been on high alert, as the number of overdoses case jumped from the opioid epidemic. 

But these days there is hope. 

Last year, the city approved $1.4 million for the pilot program Project Save Lives. Doctor Raymond Pomm created the rehabilitation project and believes the program is showing early signs of success. 

“At this point, of everyone that has been engaged in our program, we have had only one person have another overdose,” Pomm said.

Of the 37 people who entered the program, 30 continue to get help. Pomm said early treatment and medicine for withdrawal systems are helping the patients. 

The program comes at a time when overdose rates in 2017 are discouraging and bleak. 

According to the Jacksonville Fire Rescue Department, zip code 32210, which is part of the Westside, had the most overdoses and Orange Park medical hospital Park West had the most transports from JRFD, but 2018 could be a different year if the pilot program continues to work. 

Jacksonville City Councilman Bill Gulliford said the next step would be more funding. 

“I think we need to get to the end of the pilot and we are going to have to address how we move forward,” Gulliford said. “We are going to have help from the state.”

The JFRD data showed that 35 percent of overdoses in the 32210 zip code are happening from 5-9 p.m. 

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