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On April 14, Dr. Perry Kendall, Provincial Medical Health Officer declared a public health emergency as per the Public Health Act in response to increasing overdoses and overdose deaths in our province. Details are available in the Ministry of Health news release.
In response to this emergency declaration, Interior Health has established an Emergency Incident Management Team to provide direction and coordinate our response.
The team’s priorities are: enhanced fatal and non-fatal overdose surveillance, increased accessibility to harm reduction tools including Take Home Naloxone (THN) kits, exploring Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) in our highest risk communities, scaling-up substance use services for people who use drugs that are at highest risk of overdose, and population based education and prevention.
An enhanced surveillance system has been implemented that allows us to track both overdose deaths and overdoses with recovery. This timely collection of critical data will help inform our response to this emergency.
Take Home Naloxone program
The BC Take Home Naloxone (THN) program is provided in collaboration with BC Centre for Disease Control, regional health authorities and other community stakeholders. The program provides training and naloxone kits free of charge to people who are at risk of an opioid overdose and those likely to witness an overdose (including friends and family members of those at risk of overdose). This program is now available at all Interior Health Mental Health and Substance Use offices, public health centres and at several community agencies. For more information visit HealthLinkBC.
Locate a Take Home Naloxone site in your community.
Overdose prevention sites
In response to the Ministerial order (Ministerial Order M488) issued on December 12, 2016 under the Emergency Services Act, Interior Health has implemented overdose prevention sites in Kamloops and in Kelowna. These sites will offer a place where people who use drugs can be safely monitored and treated if they overdose. These sites also provide enhanced harm reduction services including the distribution of naloxone and other harm reduction supplies as well as health care services and referrals for treatment.
Supervised Consumption Services
A supervised consumption service (SCS) is an evidence-based health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment where people can inject or consume pre-obtained prescribed or illicit drugs under the supervision of trained staff. Interior Health will be exploring the feasibility of providing supervised consumption services.
Our Mental Health and Substance Use offices provide a full range of services to improve the health and well-being of people with substance use problems.
In response to the public health overdose emergency our Mental Health and Substance programs have implemented enhanced follow up for individuals who present to emergency departments due to an overdose; this includes expanded outreach services along with work to increase access to evidence-based opioid agonist treatment services such as Suboxone (buprenorphine/naloxone) and methadone treatment.
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