Elena Rardon photo The front room of the new overdose prevention site on Third Avenue run by the Shelter Society and Island Health.

Overdose prevention site opens in Port Alberni

Service is being operated by Port Alberni Shelter Society with funding from Island Health

The Port Alberni Shelter Society and Island Health have implemented an overdose prevention site in Port Alberni in response to Vancouver Island’s public health emergency over fentanyl.

The Port Alberni-based overdose prevention service began operating on May 1. The service is being operated by the Port Alberni Shelter Society with funding from Island Health. The Shelter Society has opened a new location at 3699 Third Avenue, where they will be offering the overdose prevention site services and harm reduction services. There is space available at the new location to include additional support services in the future.

Wes Hewitt, the Shelter Society director, said the non-profit and the health authority worked in combination to get the service up and running.

“[Island Health] has been opening sites and have opened sites across the island,” he said. “We have the same opiate issues here as across the Island. Our non-profit feels we should be doing things to deal with those.”

He said the solution is a two-fold one. It addresses social issues, as well as the cost to the taxpayers.

“By addressing these problems, hopefully we can reduce healthcare and policing costs,” he said.

The overdose prevention service provides a place where people who use illicit opioid drugs can be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose. Staff at the site are equipped with naloxone and are trained for overdose response.

The overdose prevention service is expected to be in operation as long as needed. The service will be available seven days a week, during regular business hours, from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

“We want to make a change, to better the community,” said Hewitt. “We can’t stick our heads in the sand. The issue is there.”

The Shelter Society also runs the new Sobering Centre under a contractual agreement with Island Health.

The society is committed to providing a gateway to stable housing and supportive services in the community, he said.

“There’s a continuum in the community, and housing is a part of that continuum,” said Hewitt.

“At some point they want to make a change in their life, and move from low barrier housing.”

Overdose prevention services are part of a broad overdose response strategy that includes education, prevention, outreach, harm reduction, naloxone kits, counselling, substance use treatment and supports, and access to mental health services.

Between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2016, 155 people died from an illicit drug overdose in Island Health; 56 of these fatalities occurred in the Central Island region, and 24 people have died in the region in the first three months 2017, identifying the need to respond to the current health crisis with services for overdose prevention, and save lives, he added.

elena.rardon@alernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Elena Rardon photo A closeup of one of the supervised injection rooms at the new overdose prevention site on Third Avenue run by the Shelter Society and Island Health.

Elena Rardon photo A view from the outside of the new overdose prevention site on Third Avenue run by the Shelter Society and Island Health.

Just Posted

Shipyard upgrade on Port Alberni’s waterfront means MV Frances Barkley retrofit happens at home

Canadian Maritime Engineering expands equipment to accept larger vessels

BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni department heads asked to justify costs

Faulty firefighter breathing gear, ballooning Uptown costs, train marketing all questioned

Port Alberni café, pair of teens rally support for Australia bush fire relief

Boomerangs Café plans three-day fundraiser; teens prepare to help in wildlife recovery

Agricultural Land Commission approves cannabis facility in Beaver Creek

Proposed facility outside Port Alberni had been caught up in ALR red tape

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read