Pubdate: Thu, 20 Jul 2017
Source: Daily Courier, The (CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 The Okanagan Valley Group of Newspapers
Author: Steve MacNaull
Page: A3


Mobile overdose-prevention unit to start offering supervision as well

Overnight, the bureaucratese for safe injection site has changed to
supervised consumption services.

"Our new permission from Health Canada allows us to transition, in the
next two weeks, from offering a mobile safe injection site to offering
mobile supervised consumption services," said Interior Health medical
health officer Dr. Lilvina Mema.

The same recreational vehicle outfitted with two sit-down cubicles for
people injecting illegal drugs that's been used since April in Kelowna
will continue to be used for the new program.

In the past, because illegal drugs were involved, staffers could only
be on site to respond to an overdose.

As such, Interior Health preferred to use the term overdose-prevention
site rather than safe injection site.

Staffers couldn't supervise injections nor offer advice on how to hold
the needle and inject to avoid vein damage and overdose.

Now, that kind of supervised help can be offered along with some of
the other services that were offered in the past such as overdose
prevention and supplies; naloxone kits (for treating a narcotic
overdose); harm-reduction services and supplies; wound, foot and burn
care; counselling; and referrals to treatment and outreach.

Drug injectors still have the choice of not being supervised while
using the mobile site.

"In order to get the supervision permission from Health Canada, we had
to apply under the Controlled Drug and Substances Act for an exemption
because illegal drugs are involved," said Mema.

"The mobile service will transition to more involved care over the
next two weeks."

In addition to the two sit-down cubicles for injecting, the RV has a
lounge in the back for drug users to rest before or after injection.

"Additional supervised consumption services in B.C. are a great step
forward in our provincial strategy to prevent overdoses and provide
people who use drugs the care they need," said provincial health
officer Dr. Perry Kendall.

Mobile services for both Kelowna and Kamloops were announced by
Interior Health back in January in response to the overdose crisis in

In March, before the RV even came into operation in April, Interior
Health applied for the supervised consumption permission.

"Supervising a person who is using drugs is more than just
observation," said chief medical health officer Dr. Trevor Corneil.
"It is an opportunity for intervention, education and building a
therapeutic relationship."

The RV can only be used for injecting drugs. It cannot be used to
smoke, snort or swallow drugs, according to Mema.

However, she said if Interior Health gets permission from Health
Canada, it could start offering supervised drug snorting.

A stationary site in Surrey can supervise drug snorting.

The Kelowna RV will keep its same schedule offering the expanded

It will be downtown at 455 Leon Ave. in the parking lot behind
Outreach Urban Health from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesdays through

On the same days, the RV will be at 125 Park Rd., beside Rutland
Community Dialysis, from 7 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.
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