ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (KDVR) — Thursday was Overdose Awareness Day, which holds a special meaning for one member of Colorado’s congressional delegation.
U.S. Rep. Brittany Pettersen is an advocate for ending the opioid epidemic, with opioid abuse personally hitting her family. She introduced a piece of legislation she hopes Congress will take up later this year.
A former state lawmaker, Pettersen championed several bills at the Colorado state Capitol with the goal of addressing the opioid crisis. She is hoping to get some legislation passed at the federal level to address the same issue.
Pettersen was back home in Colorado on Thursday, commemorating the day at a location that is special to her: Swedish Medical Center in Englewood.
It’s the hospital where her mother was treated for addiction. Pettersen credited the staff there for saving her mom’s life.
She said it was her first time walking the halls of the facility again since her mom was in the emergency room.
Bill would make it easier to hand out naloxone
Pettersen’s new bill looks to require Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare to cover the costs for hospitals to hand out naloxone, the opioid overdose reversal drug also known by the brand name Narcan.
Doctors at the news conference said right now, hospitals nationwide can prescribe an at-risk patient Narcan, but less than 2% of those patients actually get the prescriptions filled after that.
Pettersen said doctors at Swedish gave her mom access to the lifesaving drug and saved her mom’s life. She wants hospitals to be able to distribute the medication, allowing patients to take it home with them from the hospital.
“(Doctors at Swedish) have taken it upon themselves to make sure that everybody like my mom who shows up here is given Naloxone if they are at risk of an overdose. This overdose reversal drug, they are given it in person,” Pettersen said.
Pettersen said she hopes to get bipartisan support on this measure like she was able to get on some of her measures here in Colorado.