NHRMC sees drop in overdose patients in the Emergency Room


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — The opioid epidemic continues to be an issue in the Cape Fear. It’s a problem Wilmington’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center is addressing, head on. Today, members of the staff spoke with insurance commissioner Mike Causey at a roundtable.

“All of these efforts in combination are a big help to reducing opioid abuse,” Causey said.

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They spoke about the efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions, disposing of medications and the challenges of addiction. So far, their efforts have slightly brought down the number of overdoses which come in to New Hanover Regional’s ER.

“The numbers are small. We’ve seen about a ten percent reduction and it’s just initial. But we expect with our efforts and as we continue, we hope to continue to drive this down,” Clinical Support Service VP Laurie Whalin said.

One major contributor to the lowered rates is the medical drop system put in place in 2010.

“We have collected through operation medicine drop over 100,000,000 pills that could have ended up in our streams, our waterways, or in drug dealers hands and that type thing,” Causey said.

Scott Whisnant, New Hanover Regional Community Relations Administrator wants a bill brought forward for telemedicine insurance, to allow rural patients dealing with opioid addiction to video call a physician.

“What we’d like to is uniformly accepted as a physician encounter, provider encounter that gets reimbursed,” Whisnant said.

The staff and commissioner are also hoping medical insurance companies will continue their efforts to reduce opioid prescriptions.

So far efforts from the hospital have managed to prevent more than 800,000 opioid pills from entering the community.