Health unit issues alert after spike in drug-related ER visits - the 4th overdose alert this year

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Windsor Regional Hospital Emergency Department.  (Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit)
Windsor Regional Hospital Emergency Department. (Chris Ensing/CBC - image credit)

The local health unit has issued an alert following a spike in opioid-related emergency department visits in Windsor last week.

Between April 5 and April 11, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit (WECHU) recorded 10 opioid-related emergency department visits — nine involved fentanyl and four were non-overdoses. WECHU said it also received five EMS notifications related to drug visits on Tuesday.

This is the fourth alert that the health unit has issued so far this year. The most recent alert was issued on March 16, following 27 overdose-related emergency department visits.

Of the 27 overdoses, seven included opioids and five were fentanyl.

The graph shows the number of confirmed opioid overdose monthly emergency department visits in Windsor-Essex from 2018 to 2021.
The graph shows the number of confirmed opioid overdose monthly emergency department visits in Windsor-Essex from 2018 to 2021. (Windsor-Essex County Health Unit)

After the alert last month, CBC News spoke with healthcare professionals in Windsor-Essex who said the pandemic has exacerbated the struggle for people with addictions.

Data from the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit show that emergency department visits related to an opioid overdose have been steadily rising since 2018.

In January, there were 30 compared to 29 last year, and in February there were 33 compared to 16 the year prior.