On Monday, Governor Doug Ducey declared a public health emergency to address the alarming increase in opioid deaths in Arizona. Our team immediately sprang into action, activating and fully staffing our Health Emergency Operations Center within hours so that the numerous programs and offices across ADHS have a coordinated system for responding to the Governor’s calls to action.

Our Rules and Licensing teams have been coordinating with other ADHS subject matter experts to complete emergency rulemaking for healthcare institutions. These rules will support healthcare institutions in developing policies and procedures for opioid prescribing and dispensing. Rules such as these will help ensure facilities educate patients on opioid risks and comply with specific best practices to reduce opioid dependence or overdose.

Our Policy team has been hard at work developing recommendations for the Governor on an enhanced surveillance advisory, which is a requirement of the emergency declaration. Recommendations include required reporting of suspected opioid overdoses and deaths, neonatal abstinence syndrome, and naloxone administration and dispensing by health care providers, first responders, and pharmacies. Our Operations teams have been hard at work developing surveillance systems to collect this information and we’ve met with county health officials to brief them. We’re holding a meeting today with required data reporters to brief them on the enhanced surveillance recommendations and will provide additional information and training next week.

We’ve also been hard at work developing a series of statewide trainings for naloxone administration. Naloxone, a medication that can be used to reverse opioid overdoses, can be administered by law enforcement officials, first responders, healthcare providers, and even community members, who encounter someone who may be experiencing an overdose. Providing training expands the number of partners in the community who can help save a life. Trainings will be offered in Flagstaff, Tucson, and Phoenix in the coming weeks.

I have also signed standing orders for naloxone. These orders authorize any Arizona-licensed pharmacist to dispense naloxone to any individual in accordance with the order, which will help support naloxone distribution across the state.

Check out our new opioid webpage, which our Communications Team has been updating throughout the week, and stay tuned for additional updates next week as our team continues to push forward in response to this epidemic.