LIVINGSTON, Mont. — Shannan Piccolo walked into a hotel with a tote bag full of Narcan and a speech about how easy it is to use the medicine that can reverse opioid overdoses.
“Hopefully your business would never have to respond to an overdose, but we’d rather have you have some Narcan on hand just in case,” Piccolo, director of Park City-County Health Department, said to the hotel manager.
The manager listened to Piccolo’s instructions on how to use Narcan, the brand name of the drug naloxone, and added four boxes of the nasal spray to the hotel’s first-aid kit.
The transaction took less than 10 minutes. It was the third hotel Piccolo had visited that hot July day in Livingston, a mountain town of roughly 8,000, where, as in much of the nation, health officials are worried about a recent rise in the use of the synthetic opioid fentanyl.
It was the first time the local health department offered door-to-door training and supplies to prevent overdose deaths. The underlying strategy was forged during the pandemic when public health officials distributed rapid tests and vaccines in high-risk settings.
“We learned this from covid,” said Dr. Laurel Desnick, the county’s public health officer. “We go to people who may not have time to come to us.”
The pandemic laid bare the gaps and disparities in …