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Town hall meeting to discuss overdose spike in Penticton

Following a recent spike in overdoses in Penticton and region, a town hall meeting is scheduled for tonight, Dec. 7, 2016, at the Okanagan College Lecture Hall.
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December 07, 2016 - 1:32 PM

PENTICTON - As the number of illicit drug overdoses soar in Penticton, a local group plans to hold a town hall meeting to discuss the issue.

Pathways Addiction Resource Centre is hosting a town hall meeting tonight, Wednesday, Dec. 7, at the Okanagan College Lecture Hall in response to the spike.

Interior Health Authority medical health officer Dr. Silvina Mema says in an email since the overdose surveillance initiative launched in mid-June, Penticton Regional Hospital was reporting between one and four overdoses per month, up until November.

There were 31 reports of overdoses in November alone, with a single report noted for December, he says.

The meeting tonight is open to the public and will feature a panel of guests including staff from Pathways, harm reduction and outreach groups, and first responders from RCMP, B.C. Ambulance and the Penticton Fire Department. There will also be a physician and a pharmacist on the panel.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting will run from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Interior Health data shows 76 per cent of the people who were documented at Penticton hospital’s emergency ward suffering from an illicit drug overdose were between the ages of 19 and 49. Of those, 75 per cent were male. Sixty-two per cent self reported they thought they were using heroin.

Mema says data is collected on self-reported substances consumed but the presence of fentanyl, or other specific drugs, cannot be confirmed in an overdose.

The B.C. Coroners Service indicates approximately 60 per cent of illicit drug overdose deaths in the province have involved fentanyl, he says.

Get caught up on fentnayl crisis here.

Find past stories on illicit drug overdoses here.

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