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Overdose prevention bus rolls into Kamloops

The mobile overdose prevention unit will begin service at Crossroads Inn on Seymour Street and at ASK Wellness on Tranquille Road.
May 12, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS – At first glance it looks like a run-of-the mill recreational vehicle, but it’s actually Interior Health’s newest mobile weapon in the battle against the opioid overdose crisis.

The mobile unit will be fully operational by June, says Rae Samson, administrator for mental health and substance use with Interior Health. She's been at the front lines of substance use programming for more than 20 years.

“It’s being retrofitted to be a clinic space inside but we just have to do some final finishing work,” she says. “Kamloops’ commitment to working around a creative solution for a very at-risk population has really impressed me.” 

Today the unit is parked outside of Crossroads Inn on Seymour Street. Crossroads Inn is one station and the other stop is behind Ask Wellness on Tranquille Road. Two open houses were held over the last week at each location. The goal was to show people how this unit complements the existing network of addictions and mental health resources in Kamloops.

Harm reduction services and supplies like clean needles and naloxone will be offered in the unit.

It’ll also serve as a safe place for someone who has used substances to come in and if appropriate, engage in conversations about other substance use resources.

“They may want to make a change. They may want to talk to a physician about opiate substitution therapy and we can facilitate that connection,” Samson says.

One nurse and one social worker will staff the van and if needed, connect people with contract workers like ASK Wellness or other Interior Health services.

A significant advantage with this unit is the wheels.

“Being mobile will allow us to visit different locations over time when needs or hot spots change,” Samson says.

As part of the project, Interior Health worked with a community advisory committee to determine where it should stop. They also heard concerns from local businesses and community stakeholders.

There will be no drugs consumed on the unit until an application process for a supervised consumption exemption from Health Canada is approved.

Samson isn't sure how much longer the application process will take.

“Certainly people have expressed concern along the way,” she says. “The community has really struggled to decide what the best approach to the issue of overdose is.”

Samson says she has heard concerns, some about high rates of death with people who are using opiates and overdosing.

“Businesses and neighbours have expressed concern about the service coming into their area and attracting people and staying in the area around the van,” she says.

They plan to work closely with RCMP, first responders and business associations to address unintended consequences.

No drug testing services are available in the unit or in the future supervised consumption site.

The mobile unit is not a supervised consumption site.
The mobile unit is not a supervised consumption site.

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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2017
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