Women-only overdose prevention site opens on Vancouver's Downtown Eastside

By The Canadian Press
May 16, 2017 - 11:09am

VANCOUVER — A safe injection site that will only serve women has opened on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

Dr. Patricia Daly of Vancouver Coastal Health says many women, including sex trade workers in the troubled neighbourhood, have unique challenges accessing medical services.

The chief medical health officer says vulnerable women need support, especially as the opioid overdose crisis continues to claim lives.

The new clinic, called SisterSpace, has room to monitor up to 15 women and will be open from 6 a.m. to noon and from 6 p.m. to midnight.

Vancouver Coastal Health women’s services spokeswoman Bonnie Wilson says a women’s-only option is critical because some women on the Downtown Eastside avoid any setting where “certain men” may be found.

Pregnancy tests, as well as screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, will be available at the clinic, and Wilson says women can begin resolving physical and emotional needs once they get away from situations where their safety is at risk.

Mayor Gregor Robertson says the City of Vancouver is partnering with the health authority to fund the women’s-only overdose prevention site.

“In the midst of the overdose crisis it’s more important than ever to break the stigma of drug use and urgently scale up access to life-saving support and care for women who need it,” he says. 

Atira Women’s Resource Society and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre are also partnering with the city and the health authority to operate the clinic.

The Canadian Press

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