August 19, 2016

Vancouver’s Insite open 24 hours some days during overdose crisis

Vancouver Coastal Health announces Insite will be open for 24 hours a day on Wednesday, Thursday and Fridays on welfare cheque week.

Insite will remain open 24 hours a day on some days to fight help the province’s ongoing overdose crisis.

Vancouver Coastal Health announced Friday that, starting Aug. 24, North America’s first sanctioned supervised injection site will be open around the clock on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays on welfare cheque week.

The pilot project will continue for six months.

“We’re seeing a dramatic increase in the number of people overdosing at Insite as well as overdose visits to emergency departments during welfare cheque week,” said Dr. Ron Joe, associate medical director of Substance Use Services at the health authority. “In response, we are expanding our hours to determine if this targeted intervention will prevent overdoses.”

VCH say there has been an 80 per cent increase in opioid-related overdoses at emergency departments during the week welfare cheques are handed out from January to March of this year.

And while no one has died of an overdose at Insite since it opened in 2003, staff have recorded a 50 per cent increase in overdoses at the facility during welfare cheque distribution week.

There are also more overdoses in hospital emergency departments in the six-hour period Insite is closed each day.

“We don’t want people overdosing in an alley or at home when Insite is closed,” said Joe. “If people are going to use illicit substance, it is better that they do so in a supervised environment.”

British Columbia has declared a public health emergency in response to the alarming increase in overdose deaths being seen throughout the province, much of it linked to fentanyl.

There were a total of 433 overdose deaths in B.C. from January to July, compared to 249 in the same period in 2015. While overdose deaths are down slightly in Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley compared to 2015, deaths are up in all other regions of the province.

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