Vancouver's Insite safe injection clinic adds hours to help cut deadly overdoses

By The Canadian Press
August 19, 2016 - 10:24am

Vancouver’s supervised injection site is expanding its hours to deal with the crisis of overdose deaths.

Vancouver Coastal Health, which operates Insite, says a pilot project begins next Wednesday and will continue for up to six months.

Insite will operate around the clock on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of the weeks that social assistance cheques are issued.

The facility is normally closed daily between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Dr. Ron Joe, with the health authority’s substance use services unit, says it’s hoped the additional hours will prevent overdoses.

North America’s first sanctioned supervised injection site opened in 2003 and health authority statistics show it has recorded more than three-million injections and nearly 5,000 overdose interventions, but not a single overdose death.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people overdosing at Insite as well as overdose visits to emergency departments during welfare cheque week,” says Joe.

Between January and May 2016, Vancouver Coastal Health reported an 80 per cent increase in emergency department visits for opioid related overdoses during welfare cheque distribution week, compared with the previous week. 

“We don’t want people overdosing in an alley or at home when Insite is closed between 3 a.m. and 9 a.m. If people are going to use illicit substances, it is better that they do so in a supervised environment,” Joe adds.

The Canadian Press

Mural festival brings bright, massive paintings to Vancouver streets