Funding extended for Interior Health supervised consumption sites - InfoNews

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Funding extended for Interior Health supervised consumption sites

The mobile overdose prevention unit in Kamloops.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
January 25, 2018 - 7:00 PM

Interior Health's mobile supervised consumption sites are here to stay a little longer.

Rae Samson, manager of mental health and substance use services for Interior Health, says funding has just been extended for another six months for the supervised consumption sites in Kamloops and Kelowna. The contracts for outreach workers have also been extended.

But Samson hopes the sites are here for good.

"We want to keep running the mobile services and have some more enhancement to the service continuum so that we have more ability to respond," Samson says. "I believe they were just extended for six months, but the intent is to have them ongoing."

According to information provided by Interior Health, there were more than 9,000 visits to the Kelowna mobile site between April and November of last year, and more than 3,000 in Kamloops.

In November alone, there were nearly 1,600 visits to the Kelowna site. Although there's quite a difference in population between Kamloops and Kelowna, Interior Health is still studying what's behind the large difference in numbers between the different supervised consumption sites. The health authority is also looking into how mental health and subtance use services are spread out across the four major cities in the Southern Interior.

"We have one of our staff (members) who’s looking at how services are structured in our top four priority communities, so in order they’re Kelowna, Kamloops and then Vernon, Penticton," Samson says, "to see the array of services we offer, what are the hours, that kind of thing, to see what some of the key differences might be."

Not everyone who is going to these supervised consumption sites are using drugs there. Interior Health numbers show that a fraction of the visits at both sites involve using drugs.

Samson says this could mean people are coming after they use to be monitored, or come beforehand to access harm reduction supplies.

There have been no fatal overdoses at either site since they began running last year, although there have been some non-fatal overdoses. In Kelowna, between April and November last year, outreach workers at the supervised consumption site attended approximately 37 overdose events in or around the site. In Kamloops, the number is slightly lower at approximately 25.

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