Pubdate: Fri, 28 Jul 2017
Source: Metro (Vancouver, CN BC)
Copyright: 2017 Metro Canada
Author: Jen St. Denis
Page: 3


Medical officer wants to offer other forms of consumption

The first new supervised injection site in Vancouver since 2003 opened
Thursday in the midst of the province's overdose crisis.

Starting July 28, a small room off the reception area at Lookout
Emergency Aid Society will host an estimated 200 to 300 people a day,
seven days a week.

"In 1992 (this site) opened as the Living Room, now called the Powell
Street Getaway, but it was called the Living Room because many of the
folks in this community live in SROs in smaller-unit buildings that
don't have a living room to socialize in," said Shayne Williams, the
executive director of Lookout.

In the midst of B.C.'s deadly opioid overdose crisis, that isolation
is killing people: 88 per cent of the estimated 216 deaths caused by
overdose in Vancouver this year happened inside private residences.

Meanwhile, no deaths have occurred at overdose prevention sites or
supervised consumption sites.

While the prospect of getting supervised consumption sites open is
much better than during the years of the Stephen Harper government,
when no sites were given the green light, the process is still
cumbersome and takes too long, said Patricia Daly, chief medical
health officer for Vancouver Coastal Health.

(Vancouver's two other supervised injection sites are located at
Insite and the Dr. Peter Centre.)

Health Canada approved Lookout's Powell Street site in May, but the
required inspections and renovations meant the new site is only able
to open now.

"Health Canada knows that (Federal Health) Minister Philpott is
committed to making the process more nimble," Daly said.

The only type of drug use allowed at the new site is injection, and
that also needs to change, Daly said. Injecting drugs is actually the
most dangerous way to consume.

"We are going to immediately submit a request that they expand the
exemption to allow oral consumption and snorting," she said.

Because of the bureaucratic hurdles of opening supervised sites, the
B.C. government allowed overdose prevention sites to open, starting in
December 2016. Five sites in Vancouver now offer the bare-bones
service, where people can use drugs in the presence of staff or
volunteers who can perform basic first aid and call 911 if someone

Supervised injection sites offer more nursing care for conditions like
infections caused by injecting drugs and can refer users to other
health services.

B.C.'s new minster of mental health and addictions, Judy Darcy, was
also on hand to mark the opening of the site.

The creation of Darcy's separate ministry was an NDP campaign promise.
But she could offer few concrete details of the NDP government's
strategy to improve access to help for people suffering from mental
health and addictions issues.

"I'm talking to people on the front lines because I want to know what
works, what's been working, so we can bring forward plans to cabinet
of what we need to do more of," Darcy said.

While services like supervised injection sites are preventing people
from dying, Darcy said, faster access to long-term treatment is badly

"There's no question that more (funding) will be needed; how much that
is, we don't know yet."

Data from the Vancouver Police Department and Vancouver Fire and
Rescue shows that services like supervised consumption and overdose
prevention sites are working: The ratio of deaths to calls is lower in
the Downtown Eastside, where those services are clustered, than in
other parts of the city.
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