KAMLOOPS - ASK Wellness is excited about province's latest volley in the fight against the fentanyl overdose crisis.
Support is coming from the Interior Health Authority in the form of overdose prevention sites, and the organization running those sites is also one that's been facing the crisis as long as anyone. The new support will go a long way to helping ASK Wellness save lives, executive director Bob Hughes says.
In Kamloops, they will be located at the Crossroads Inn at 569 Seymour St. in the downtown area and the ASK Wellness outreach centre at 433 Tranquille Rd. on the North Shore, two areas where Interior Health has identified a need. They plan to run the sites from 8 a.m. to midnight.
Hughes says already this year they’ve saved more than 40 people by administering the overdose reversing drug naloxone to people having overdoses, and that is taking a toll on his staff. Currently the staff administer naloxone when called upon during their regular work hours.
“We’ve administered 43 times, that would have been 43 dead people,” he says.
The new overdose prevention sites means ASK Wellness will be adding nurses to their staff for the first time, which Hughes says is a huge step. It also means the organization's staff will be able to go out to look for people who’ve used instead of reacting when they hear of an overdose.
Hughes says while they’re being dubbed ‘sites’ they’re more akin to hubs, since it means a better reaction to any incidents in the area around both locations, with staff attending to an overdose instead of users coming to them at the sites.
The sites are not like safe consumption sites, Hughes says, and the organization is not supporting drug use, they are saving lives.
“What’s equally important is that we’re not sanctioning or supervising the consumption of drugs,” he says.
Additionally, Hughes says the organization is going to be more able to make people aware of ways to move away from opioid addiction. He says the organization is working with a doctor to be able to stream people into recovery programs.
Hughes says the crisis is still growing and statistics from November expected soon will show that Kamloops is in the middle of it.
“We’re going to see the results of the coroners report shortly,” he says. “It’s going to shock everyone. We are so clearly not out of the woods.”
For more about the fentanyl and overdose crisis, click here.
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