KAWARTHA LAKES-Today is International Overdose Awareness Day. It coincides with a worrying increase in opioid overdose-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths in the region since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent weeks, both Cobourg and Haliburton County have seen a rise in overdose incidents. Between April 2020 and March 2021, the Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge District Health Unit has noted almost double the number of opioid-related deaths in its region (Haliburton, Northumberland County and the City of Kawartha Lakes) as compared to April 2019 and March 2020.
Deaths almost doubled year over year. In 2019 there were 21 overdose deaths and 193 Ed visits in our region. From January to September 2020 (stats only available to that date) there were 37 deaths and 208 ED visits.
“These are more than statistics. These are real people who are overdosing and dying in our communities,” says Catherine MacDonald, a Registered Nurse and Substances and Harm Reduction Coordinator with the HKPR District Health Unit. “International Overdose Awareness Day is a time to remember those we’ve lost to overdose and to share in the grief of affected families. The day also reminds us that if we do our part, we can reduce the stigma surrounding overdose deaths and the likelihood of them happening again.”
One of those we lost a few years ago was Skylar Baldwin. Here’s an emotional interview with his mother from 2019.