Health Southern Indiana

A free vending machine that dispenses the lifesaving drug naloxone has seen a lot of use in its first five months at Clark Memorial Health in Jeffersonville. 

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said that, since January, the machine has provided more than 1,200 doses of the opioid overdose reversal drug. They’ve gone to patients following an overdose, their friends and family and the wider community. 

“Our goal is that we have ready access around anyone who does have an overdose that could be reversed by it,” he said. “It’s a lifesaving medicine. We always say, ‘Every overdose is preventable if we can get somebody [naloxone] fast enough.’”

Clark Memorial was the first hospital in the state to receive one of the vending machines, provided through a partnership between nonprofit organization Overdose Lifeline, Inc., which distributes free naloxone doses throughout Southern Indiana, and the Indiana Division of Mental Health and Addiction.

So far in 2022, there have been just under 30 fatal overdoses in Clark County, which Yazel said puts the county on track to stay under 70 by the end of the year. That’s lower than last year — which was the deadliest on record since 2016

“We’ve dropped a little bit on our overdose rate, but we’ve got a lot of work to do still,” he said. 

Yazel said he hopes the free naloxone can help with that. The vending machine is located just outside the hospital’s emergency department, and is available 24 hours a day. 

It could help some of those most at risk of a fatal outcome, Yazel said. The county’s suicide and overdose fatality team, which studies these deaths to determine where new resources or support is needed, offers some insight. 

“So many of these patients have a high risk ER visit shortly before their fatal overdose,” he said. “And so we want to make sure they have [naloxone] in their hands so at least they have a fighting chance, if somebody’s around to administer it.”

Clark Memorial is located at 1220 Missouri Ave. in Jeffersonville. Other Indiana locations for naloxone can be found here.

Aprile Rickert is WFPL's health reporter.