Interior Health investigating possible 'illicit substance' that sent Penticton hospital staff to ER | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Interior Health investigating possible 'illicit substance' that sent Penticton hospital staff to ER

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Interior Health says it's investigating the source of an "unknown odour" — suspected to be illicit drug use by a patient — that sent several hospital staff to the ER for treatment earlier this month.

In a statement, the health authority said the odour came from a patient's room on April 7 at Penticton Regional Hospital.

"While substance use is suspected, we are still investigating," the statement said. "Any incident involving illicit substances in a hospital is concerning and our priority is the health of all impacted individuals and determining what took place."

The news comes as the B.C. government is under fire for a little known policy allowing patients to use illicit drugs while in hospitals, but Interior Health says smoking of any kind is not allowed. The health authority says hospital staff have the ability to remove belongings from patients if they feel at risk.

"Interior Health has existing policies in place to guide staff in dealing with individuals who smoke any substance (i.e. tobacco, cannabis, or illicit substances) on IH property. We also have staff protocols to protect themselves from smoke/fumes with personal protective equipment."

Several staff members reported feeling unwell and some went to the emergency room for help. 

The Globe and Mail reported today that B.C. will require hospitals to provide a designated space for addicts to use drugs to protect health care workers. Health Minister Adrian Dix announced this week a task force to help hospitals navigate how to support and care for patients actively using illicit drugs.

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