A new partnership is being formed in South Jersey to better understand the opioid abuse epidemic, and to develop new ways to combat it.

Four South Jersey hospital systems — Cooper University Hospital, Jefferson Health New Jersey, Lourdes Health and Virtua Health System — are sharing information about treating overdose victims with Narcan, the opioid antidote drug that can revive a user.

“In the past, we’ve been able to get information about the number of Narcan deployments made by emergency personnel such as police officers, but the numbers we did not have were Narcan deployments in Emergency Rooms,” said Lou Cappelli, Camden County Freeholder director and director of the County Addiction Awareness Task Force. “To address this epidemic, we thought it was time to get as much information as we could about Narcan deployments.”

He said the hospitals are putting together the data, "and once we have that information we can strategize with the hospitals, with providers about how we move forward.’

Cappelli said that when officials have a better picture of the total number of overdose victims being treated with Narcan. “we will hopefully determine where there may be pockets of this epidemic hitting harder than others, and start addressing those particular areas of our county.”

The information will be given to the Addiction Awareness Task Force, which includes representatives from law enforcement and different providers “so we can have a better response moving forward," he said.

The hospital systems involved in the partnership “also agreed to put together a training program for their respective physicians on providing pain management not using opioids," he said.

"We’ve tried to stay ahead of the curve with the resource we have, but unfortunately until we as a nation start dedicating resource to this epidemic we’re all going to struggle fighting this battle," Cappelli said.

He said no personal information will be shared during the process.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

More from New Jersey 101.5: