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Sen. Eric Lesser Sees Opioid Crisis Up Close at Baystate Medical Center Emergency Room

SPRINGFIELD ‒ Sen. Eric P. Lesser toured Baystate Medical Center’s Emergency Department this week to see the effects of the opioid crisis firsthand.
“Opioid overdoses are flooding emergency rooms across Massachusetts, notably right here in Springfield,” Sen. Lesser said. “This visit was an important opportunity to learn what our medical practitioners are doing to save as many lives as possible, and how we can work together to help reverse the opioid crisis,” Sen. Lesser said.
The tour was led by Dr. Niels Rathlev, Chair of Baystate’s Emergency Medicine department, and was attended by several Baystate Medical Center officials, including Baystate Health President and CEO Mark Keroack and Baystate Medical Center President Nancy Shendell-Falik. In addition to opioid overdoses, officials discussed the need for improved mental health services and continued efforts to fight stigma against those with mental health conditions.
“We had a very productive meeting with Sen. Lesser, it was an opportunity to discuss our new and innovative methods of managing the opioid crisis here in Western Mass. Our physicians in the Emergency Department are on the front lines of this public health crisis and working tirelessly every day to save lives, while facilitating the accessibility of substance abuse treatment. We so appreciate the Senator’s time and interest,” Dr. Rathlev said.
Suspected cases of heroin overdose emergency room admissions tripled at Baystate during the period of Fall 2014 to Fall 2015, according to hospital officials.
The Massachusetts Senate passed a substance abuse treatment and prevention bill last fall, and the House passed its own bill earlier this month. The two bills are now in a House-Senate negotiating team, who will develop a final bill to send to Gov. Charlie Baker.
Opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts rose 228 percent from 2000 to 2014. The Massachusetts Department of Public Health confirmed 791 opioid-related deaths from January to September 2015.