Pubdate: Wed, 05 Jul 2017
Source: North Bay Nugget (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 North Bay Nugget
Author: Jennifer Hamilton-McCharles
Page: A3


Losing needle exchange program will be 'devastating'

Losing the city's largest needle exchange program will put the public
and police at risk, North Bay Police Chief Shawn Devine said Tuesday
at the monthly police board meeting.

Devine said the closure of the Nipissing Detoxification and Substance
Abuse Program on King Street July 31, as it prepares to shut down in
September, will impact community safety and well-being on many levels.

"Losing the services … is going to be devastating and will only lead
to unsafe situations for the general public and our front-line
officers," he said in his report to the board.

"While this is primarily a health issue, the health and safety
ramifications reverberate and filters its way through to law
enforcement as we are always the agency of last resort."

According to Devine, the detox program was responsible for handing out
145,170 needles and receiving 83,283.

The North Bay Parry Sound District Health Unit handed out 43,572
needles and received 25,103 and the AIDS Committee of North Bay and
Area provided 39,359 needles and received 34,857 in return.

Devine told the board the police service will continue to work with
its partners to discuss ideas regarding needle disposal and come up
with solutions.

He said this could be an opportunity for health care workers to work
with substance abuse users.

The changes are a result of the North Bay Regional Health Centre
eliminating the role of addiction workers as part of a plan to
relocate six withdrawal management service beds from its King Street
treatment centre (which was within a block of the police station).

The beds are being relocated to the hospital's main site on College
Drive/Highway 17 East in the acute inpatient psychiatry unit where
existing resources will be used to provide care to patients.

The relocation of beds was part of the latest round of cuts at the
hospital in an attempt to find $5 million in savings to help balance
its 2017-18 budget.
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