Louisville has withstood an alarming spike in opioid overdoses over the past year, as the number of patients receiving naloxone on overdose runs documented by Louisville EMS from May of last year to this April totaled 2,871 — well more than double the same period from the previous year.
Last year’s surge appears to have especially impacted much of the western and southern regions of Jefferson County, according to additional data provided to IL that includes the ZIP codes where overdose runs occurred.
The following map shows the increase in the number of patients receiving naloxone (also known by the brand name Narcan) in each ZIP code on overdose runs documented by Louisville EMS over the past year. Such patients are counted no matter if the naloxone is administered by EMS personnel, other city first responders such as police or firefighters, or private citizens, though this does not include EMS runs by St. Matthews (40207) or Anchorage (40223) personnel.
The next map examines this same statistic over the two-year period while factoring in the population of each ZIP code, determining how many patients received naloxone per 1,000 residents in that area.
This additional map documents the total overdose runs dispatched by MetroSafe 911, which includes not just Louisville EMS runs but also those of the St. Matthews and Anchorage EMS. These also include runs that did not involve patients receiving naloxone. While this total of overdose runs did not double like the number of naloxone patients, it did increase by 45 percent in the past year to 8,055, with such increases not appearing to exclude eastern ZIP codes.
Opioid crisis hits hard in Beechmont, Portland neighborhoods
According to these overdose statistics, perhaps no residential ZIP code in Louisville was hit as hard in the past year by the opioid crisis as 40215, which includes Churchill Downs from the north to the Beechmont neighborhood in the south. This area had 292 naloxone patients in the past year, more than any other ZIP code and nearly quadruple the total from the previous year.
While two ZIP codes in low-population areas had the highest per capita rate of naloxone patients — 40209, encompassing the airport and fairgrounds, and 40202, mostly made up of downtown’s Central Business District — the aforementioned 40215 had the third-highest rate of 13.9 per 1,000 residents. The total number of overdose runs in that ZIP code more than doubled — the only area where this happened — with 51 percent of these runs involving a patient receiving naloxone, which was the third highest rate countywide.
The two ZIP codes with the next highest number of naloxone patients in the past year also border 40215 to the south and west. There were 279 naloxone patients in 40216, which includes the area from Shively down to Lower Hunters Trace, and 269 patients in 40214, stretching from Beechmont to south of Iroquois Park. Such patients in the Shively ZIP code doubled and amounted to 5.9 per 1,000 residents, while the total in the Iroquois ZIP code did not quite double and had a rate of 6.7 per capita. While both areas’ rates accounting for population is far below that of 40215, they still rank among the top 10.
The total number of naloxone patients continued to increase further south and west, especially in the 40118 ZIP code along the southern border of the county that includes Fairdale, where such patients increased by 148 percent and total 7.8 per 1,000 residents. But this same trend also included ZIP codes that are near or above the Watterson Expressway.
The 40213 area — stretching from Audubon Park and Camp Taylor in the north to Lynnview in the south — witnessed the third highest rate of increase in naloxone patients, as this number jumped by 235 percent to 124. This area’s 7.6 naloxone patients per 1,000 residents is just above that of 40208, which is made up of the University of Louisville campus and part of Old Louisville. Naloxone patients in 40208 nearly tripled to 112 in the past year. The area between these two — 40217, including Schnitzleburg and Parkway Village — also saw its number of naloxone patients nearly triple, now at a rate of 4.2 per 1,000 residents.
The Portland neighborhood in the northwest appears to be an area that already was burdened by the effects of the opioid crisis in the previous year and has only seen this problem worsen over the past year. Portland is divided among 40212, which it shares with Shawnee, and 40203, which slices south and east through the neighborhoods of Russell, California, Old Louisville and Smoketown.
While the ZIP code of 40212 no longer has the highest residential rate of naloxone patients by population — as it did in the previous year — the number of naloxone patients still nearly doubled to 227, with its rate of 12.4 per 1,000 residents still among the highest countywide. The acceleration of naloxone patients was even more drastic in 40203, with an increase of 145 percent to 223 patients, now at a rate of 11.8 per 1,000 residents.
Other parts of the West End saw a surge in naloxone patients, though their per capita rates remained below the neighboring area. The ZIP code of 40211 — including Chickasaw, Parkland and Park DuValle — witnessed its number of naloxone patients more than quadruple to 88 in the past year, the highest percentage increase in the county. In 40210, which includes Park Hill, the number of naloxone patients nearly tripled, and its rate per 1,000 residents has spiked to 5.8.
Special thanks to Pat Smith, co-founder of Civic Data Alliance, for designing the maps used in this article.