Overdose prevention service set to go mobile in June

By Jill Sperling
May 25, 2017 - 5:00pm Updated: May 25, 2017 - 6:06pm

KAMLOOPS — In response to the opioid overdose crisis, Interior Health has purchased a retro-fitted motor home to serve as a supervised drug consumption site. 

On June 5, the unit goes mobile, however no drugs will be consumed inside the vehicle just yet. 

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"We are able to monitor them after they've used, help respond if they start to overdose, and provide harm reduction supplies, and provide primary care," said Rae Samson, administrator for Mental Health and Substance Use with IH West.

Before the unit can be used for drug consumption, Interior Health will need an exemption from the Controlled Drug and Substances Act. 

"We have actually put in an exemption request to Health Canada, and that application is currently under review," Samson said. "They've given us some feedback already on our application, so we're still working through the final stages of that process. If we get an exemption from Health Canada then we will be offering supervised consumption services in this mobile unit here, and also one in Kelowna."

Interior Health currently operates two overdose prevention sites in Kamloops in partnership with Ask Wellness. 

Similar to those services, the mobile unit will have a nurse on staff to monitor drug users starting in June. A social worker will also be available, and clients will be linked to mental health and substance abuse treatments, as well as other healthcare services.

The big difference for the site: it's on wheels. 

"We decided that the two stops that would be the most beneficial to the community to start with would be Crossroads Inn, and the Ask Wellness location on Tranquille Road," Samson said. "So, the mobile will actually stop in the back of that service, and then there's actually a door into the existing overdose prevention services where we distribute harm reduction supplies."

Those locations were determined after lengthy consultations with community partners, residents, service providers, and drug users. 

However, not everyone is completely on board with the mobile service. 

"Businesses have been concerned, some of the residents have been concerned," Samson said, "and at the same time people really care about this overdose problem in the community, because they know people are really at risk, and people have died."

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