Pubdate: Fri, 07 Apr 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Andrea Peacock
Page: 11


More drug users accessing care, says chief medical health officer

Drug overdose deaths remain high, but Interior Health is reaching more
drug users and saving more lives through its overdose prevention
services, says chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil.

In February, there were 15 overdose deaths across the Interior Health
region, down from 18 in January and 29 in December. On Tuesday,
Corneil provided an update on the local drug overdose response to the
IH board of directors, focusing on the success of overdose prevention

"We're really trying to demonstrate that although we're not seeing the
dent in the number of deaths, we are seeing an increase in people who
are accessing services and accessing care, and we know that every time
someone touches one of these services, their risk of overdose death
goes down," said Corneil. "It's an opportunity to provide either harm
reduction supplies or education or pathways into treatment."

In addition to connecting with drug users, IH has also been following
up with overdose patients who check into the emergency room.

>From September 2016 to January 2017, IH successfully contacted 53 per
cent of the 186 overdose patients who visited hospitals in the region.

Of those 99 patients, 56 of them accepted help via IH services.
"That's great news," said Corneil. Once patients receive naloxone, a
medication that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, they are
put into instant withdrawal, and most of them leave the emergency room
very quickly, he said.

"We are now connecting with half of them, and that is many more than
we did before," said Corneil. "We're finding a whole new group of
users who, until now, have not accessed the system."

IH hopes to connect with even more drug users following the launch of
the mobile drug overdose prevention unit.

The renovated motorhome arrived in Kelowna last week. It will replace
the current Axed overdose prevention site on Ellis Street, which will
close at the end of the month.

"We're hoping to have it up and going for use by substance users
within the next two to three weeks," said Corneil.
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