Pubdate: Tue, 16 Jan 2018
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2018 The Lethbridge Herald
Author: Dave Mabell
Page: A3


More than 40 client support workers have been hired

With staff training well underway, officials at the city's supervised
drug consumption centre will be ready once building contractors have
finished their work.

Renovations on the 1 Avenue S. structure - a night club and bar for
many decades - started last fall. Stacey Bourque, executive director
of the Arches harm reduction agency, says it's a little behind
schedule because of a decision to install a new fire detection and
sprinkler system.

"In the middle of a crisis, you always wish it was going faster," she
says. "But it's an older building, and we want to keep everybody's
safety in mind."

Health officials report hundreds of Albertans died from a fentanyl
drug overdose last year - and they've warned that emergency hospital
visits related to fentanyl are 25 per cent higher in southern Alberta
than in Calgary or Edmonton.

By the end of 2017, Arches was reporting about 3,000 clients in
Lethbridge and a similar number from surrounding areas.

More than 40 client support workers have been hired, Bourne says, and
training began in December.

She says on Feb. 1, even though renovations won't be complete, new
staff members will start to work alongside Arches staff who provide
the downtown "walking outreach" program, home visits and other ongoing

For clients, "By the time we open, they will be familiar

Work should be complete by late February, she predicts.

Then Lethbridge-area residents will be invited to view the consumption
centre's facilities and programs, before the expanded services begin.
They'll be led by addictions counsellors and harm-reduction
specialists as well as registered and practical nurses supervising the
consumption rooms.

The centre will also provide drop-in services where clients can eat,
wash laundry, take a shower, use a computer or utilize indigenous
cultural spaces. It will also provide office and meeting room space.

Bourque says Arches' existing building on 6 Avenue S. will become a
recovery coaching centre, for people who want to get away from a
drugdependent life.

Repurposing that space, she says, will help those clients stay away
from others who are still using.
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