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Kamloops doctors open addictions clinic to battle overdoses

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July 05, 2017 - 6:30 PM

KAMLOOPS – In the midst of climbing overdose deaths in the province, a group of doctors just opened an addictions clinic hoping to reach people suffering from addictions before it's too late. 

"Fentanyl has changed the rules of the game. For many years if people were addicted to heroin or opiates, overdose deaths were unusual," says Dr. Rob Baker, one of the 11 doctors who staff the clinic.

The Kamloops Rapid Access Addiction Clinic is open every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. and is not a primary care clinic, but a clinic and social resource for people with addictions or substance abuse problems. Walk-ins and phone inquiries are available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and staff will field calls from healthcare services every day from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Baker says there will always be at least one doctor available at the clinic located at 103-220 3 Ave. above Kipp-Mallery pharmacy, or past 4 p.m. by phone to answer questions. It officially opened on July 2.

"This team has been providing service in Kamloops for decades and most have been providing addictions care during that time," Baker says.

Physicians will provide prompt help to people with all types of addictions including opiates, alcohol, stimulants, nicotine and marijuana.

"With fentanyl the death rate from overdose is so horrendous we decided it's not great medical process to wait for people to come back," Baker says.

There is no fee and a B.C. Services or CareCard isn't always required. Baker says people from out of province or even out of country can access care without one.

"We want to make it easier for people to say 'OK, I've got to do something' and not be told they'll have an appointment in three weeks because you just don't get a second chance anymore," Baker says.

Too many barriers or long wait times can deter people from seeking addictions treatment and these doctors want to make resources available so anyone wanting help can get it right away.

Doctors staffing the clinic say people with addictions have obstacles when it comes to getting medical care and someone who has just overdosed, or gotten an impaired driving charge, or gone through marital separation may be more open to treatment. However, if getting care takes too long, people can become discouraged.

The goal is to give a point of entry for addiction care within 24 hours of the request on Monday to Friday.

The clinic is a medical facility but also a way for doctors to connect people with social resources.

This clinic has a working relationship with the Phoenix Detox Centre, residential treatment centres in B.C., mental health and addictions services through Kamloops Mental Health and the Interior Health Authority, ASK Wellness and with local recovery groups including Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and Smart Recovery.

Staff can also help with social needs outreach like housing and income assistance applications.

To access services call 250-374-2345 or email kamloopsraac@gmail.com.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kim Anderson or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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