Overdose prevention sites already making impact in Kamloops

By Chad Klassen
December 19, 2016 - 5:12pm Updated: December 19, 2016 - 6:08pm

KAMLOOPS — The record-setting number of overdose deaths across the province and throughout the B.C. Interior is adding to the urgency to find a solution quickly. Interior Health has set up two overdose prevention sites in Kamloops — one on either side of the river — and already the response has been overwhelming.

"How we've envisioned both sides of the river's overdose prevention services is to have outreach workers basically using these as hubs to move around in the neighbourhoods where these folks are, making sure they have access to naloxone," says ASK Wellness Executive Director Bob Hughes. 

One is at ASK wellness on the North Shore and is the second prevention site to open, beginning services on Monday. The other, at the Crossroads Inn — a supportive housing facility run by ASK Wellness — opened its doors on Friday and has already made a difference with 34 naloxone kits handed out. 

Dr. Ian Mitchell is the Medical Director for the prevention site. He knows the importance of caring for people on site, handing out naloxone kits, and spreading the word about this crisis. 

At each facility, there will be a public health nurse on from noon until 8 p.m. five days a week — a first at ASK Wellness. The nurse will be there to treat the patient that may be identified as high-risk for an overdose. 

"But if they have issues that are beyond just simply a harm-reduction supply, and want to see a nurse for everything from how I get onto addictions programming or some maintanence programs," says Hughes. "Do they have open wounds and infections? Trying to look at it as simply not just a provision of naloxone."   

The ultimate goal is to help people with their addiction and find their way in life, and that includes long-term housing. 

"We may be only stopping the bleeding with this services, but we need to be able to get away from being stuck in the urgent and move towards looking at longer term solutions --- 6-month, 12-month, 18-month strategy --- to make a dent on this overdose epidemic and addiction epidemic in our province."

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