A vending machine stocked with free medication used to reverse an opioid overdose is now available at Witham Health Services in Zionsville.
The Lebanon-based hospital said the naloxone vending machine is one of 19 placed across the state and will be available for use by the public at its Zionsville location, 6085 Heartland Dr.
Naloxone, commonly known as Narcan, is given when a person is showing signs of opioid overdose to block the deadly effects of the overdose.
“There is no single solution to ending this epidemic that has taken the lives of thousands of Hoosiers,” Gov. Eric Holcomb stated. “We can, however, take thoughtful steps to help shake the scourge of addiction from our communities. Naloxone vending machines are a practical tool to prevent overdoses and save lives.”
The vending machines, which hold up to 300 naloxone kits, are manufactured by Shaffer Distribution Co. and programmed to dispense free naloxone kits. Each kit includes a single dose of naloxone, instructions for use, and a referral to treatment for substance use disorder.
Indiana reported a 21 percent increase in fatal overdoses during the 12-month period beginning in December 2020 and ending in December 2021, according to provisional data released in May by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“This machine gives Boone County residents zero-barrier access to a medication that could mean the difference between life and death,” said Kelly Braverman, president/CEO of Witham Health Services. “Witham is proud to be the recipient of one of the state’s first naloxone vending machines, and we applaud Gov. Holcomb’s commitment to address the drug epidemic. From our recent Community Health Needs Assessment, residents of Boone County ranked mental health and substance abuse one and two top areas of concern.”
Overdose Lifeline, an Indiana nonprofit that helps those affected by substance abuse disorder, is purchasing the vending machines using $72,600 in federal grant funds made available through the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Mental Health and Addiction.
“We must continue to ensure widespread access to naloxone, given the lingering impact of COVID-19 and the increased supply of fentanyl in our 92 counties,” said Douglas Huntsinger, executive director for drug prevention, treatment and enforcement for the state of Indiana. “Every life lost to a drug overdose is one too many. Naloxone offers the opportunity to get individuals with substance use disorder on the path to long-term recovery.”
Braverman also said the vending machine will be an asset to the hospital’s services.
“This is a great extension to the mental health in the emergency department program Witham has in place where patients who come to our emergency departments with a mental health crisis have the opportunity to receive immediate treatment from an integrated wellness mental health professional and get support 24 hours a day,” Braverman said.