Concord superintendent says Narcan in city schools should be considered

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    A kit with naloxone, also known by its brand name Narcan, is displayed at the South Jersey AIDS Alliance in Atlantic City, N.J. on Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2014. An overdose of opiates essentially makes the body forget to breathe. Naloxone works by blocking the brain receptors that opiates latch onto and helping the body "remember" to take in air. (AP Photo/Mel Evans) Mel Evans

Monitor staff
Published: 4/12/2016 12:30:17 AM

Concord School District officials will take a closer look at whether to stock Narcan kits in the city’s schools.

At a Concord school board Communications and Policy Committee meeting Monday night, Superintendent Terri Forsten said that after recently discussing the issue with Concord’s school nurses, she would look into adding the overdose-reversal drug to the district’s health procedures manual.

If ultimately approved, Narcan would be added to the manual under a list of medications to be administered in school in case of an emergency.

Forsten said the issue has only come up in the past week; she had previously stated the Concord school board had no immediate plans to formally discuss Narcan in the district’s schools.

However, given the urgency of the state’s heroin and opioid epidemic, Forsten and school board members said they believed Narcan should be considered soon.

“As I read through the New Hampshire School Nurses’ Association position statement, that offers very strong rationale to having Narcan in our schools,” Forsten said.

After reading the statement, committee member Maureen Redmond-Scura said she had wondered whether Concord’s close proximity to hospitals and medical centers meant Narcan could be put to better use in rural areas where getting to an emergency room takes a longer time.

Forsten said she initially had the same thought, but added, “As a couple of people have said to me, we should have it on hand and be prepared.”

Committee member Alana Kimball agreed with Forsten’s comment. “Where they are at in their overdose, we don’t know,” she said, adding a potential overdose could also happen on school athletic fields.

The question also arose of who would be authorized to administer the drug. Committee member Tom Croteau said the policy change should answer whether school administrators and staff would be allowed to do that, in addition to nurses.

“It’s a question that needs to be answered before we move too far forward,” Croteau said.

Forsten said she would continue to work with school nurses and medical professionals to create an addition to the health procedures manual and would return to the committee at a later date with answers about Narcan’s availability and potential cost to the district.

Forsten added one of the school nurses suggested the district seen input from Concord’s police and fire departments, and board members agreed that was a good idea.

Other large districts in New Hampshire, including Manchester, Nashua, Keene and North Conway, have already made the overdose-reversal drug available in schools.

Many schools have received the kits at no cost to their district; a $500,000 federal grant has paid for 5,000 kits across the state, and school officials in Manchester, Nashua and Hopkinton said cost wasn’t a factor in their decision to stock Narcan kits.

(Ella Nilsen can be reached at 369-3322, or on Twitter @ella_nilsen.)

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