Pubdate: Tue, 19 Sep 2017
Source: Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Copyright: 2017 Postmedia Network Inc.
Author: Jon Willing
Page: A5


Supervised health unit in Lowertown a temporary solution to ongoing

The Ottawa Board of Health on Monday night unanimously endorsed a plan
by the city's top doctor to set up a temporary supervised injection
site in Lowertown at a time when more people are overdosing and ending
up in hospital emergency rooms.

Isra Levy, the medical officer of health, has already started the
legwork to get the site ready at 179 Clarence St., which is an Ottawa
Public Health facility, in partnership with the Sandy Hill Community
Health Centre. Health Canada received the application for an interim
injection site there last Tuesday.

To operate the interim site, the health unit expects to use some of
the $350,000 provided by the province to fight the opioid crisis, with
hopes of landing additional cash through another round of funding.

The physical work to create an injection site at the Clarence Street
facility will cost about $15,000.

The health unit has recorded on average nearly 120 overdoserelated
visits to emergency rooms each month in 2017.

Health board members absorbed that solemn reality.

"Let no one be under any misapprehension that there's not the need for
this," said board member Atul Kapur, who's an emergency room doctor.
"There's a need for more of this."

The health unit is working with the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre
to open the interim supervised injection site because the Sandy Hill
health centre already has an exemption to run a supervised injection
site at its Nelson Street facility, which won't be running until later
in the fall.

Levy believes the need for such a service is so urgent that there
should be a temporary injection site run by the health unit until the
Sandy Hill injection site is ready.

The health unit, which has a 120-day memorandum of understanding with
Sandy Hill, wants the interim site to be a seven-day operation.

On Aug. 25, volunteers with Overdose Prevention Ottawa set up a
makeshift supervised injection service in Raphael Brunet Park in
Lowertown. According to the advocacy group, there have been more than
750 visits to the tent since then.

Robert Jamison, who helped create Overdose Prevention Ottawa,
underscored the urgency of a supervised injection site, telling the
board he was sick of seeing people die.

"There's no more time to wait around for this," Jamison

The health board in June 2016 voted 9-2 in support of supervised
injection sites. Coun. Shad Qadri, the chair of the board, and Coun.
Michael Qaqish were the two dissenting votes.

There have been several local developments on the issue since

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre received a federal exemption to
run an injection site at its Nelson Street facility.

Ottawa Inner City Health (at the Shepherds of Good Hope) and Somerset
West Community Health Centre also submitted applications to Health
Canada, but in both cases the applications are incomplete and are
still under review by Health Canada.

The Overdose Prevention Ottawa tent popped up at the end of August,
compelling the health unit to take action last week.

Over the past week, the health unit rolled out four token-operated
vending machines filled with harm-reduction items, such as clean pipes
and needles.

The health unit collected public feedback on supervised injections
sites last year.

Out of 2,263 responses to a voluntary survey, 66 per cent indicated
that having supervised injection services in Ottawa would be beneficial.

The health board could be faced with a decision on whether it should
run an injection site for the long term - or consider supporting
mobile services - when staff table a progress report on the interim
site in early 2018.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Matt