New care model connects people across region to opioid use disorder treatment

November 22, 2022

As the toxic drug crisis continues, Interior Health in collaboration with local prescribers has implemented a new model to help connect people in the East Kootenay region who have opioid use disorder with opioid agonist treatments (OAT), such as methadone and Suboxone.

“When people bravely reach out for help, we want supports to meet them,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This innovative approach will help more people in the East Kootenays access life-saving treatment, as government continues to build a system of mental health and addictions care across the province.”

A new centralized East Kootenay-wide OAT clinic has been launched in order to maximize OAT prescribing resources in the region. The clinic provides clients with access to an OAT prescriber on any weekday at their local Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) centre, using an innovative blend of in-person and virtual appointments.

The service is available in five East Kootenay communities: Cranbrook; Creston; Invermere; Golden; and Sparwood.

The clinic is comprised of physicians, nurse prescribers and a centralized medical office assistant.

“The provision of OAT medication, and with substance use treatment generally, has unique challenges. By leveraging technology and through working together we continue to remove barriers to treatment. I’d like to thank the prescribers who have stepped up to participate in this program, while encouraging others to do so as well,” said Interior Health president and CEO Susan Brown.

This new model is a unique approach to address several challenges presented by the geography of the region. It also provides more options for clients whose prescriptions run out, who may otherwise rely on illicit opioids.

Call the new OAT intake office at 250-420-2210.

Earlier this year, Interior Health announced a project to connect people with opioid use disorder with Suboxone in hospital emergency departments.

To learn more about OAT medications in the treatment of opioid use disorder visit our OAT page.


“Personally it has given me my life back. It was taken away when I had my accident, and again when I became addicted to the pain meds I needed. OAT therapy has taken away the cravings and desire for any other meds because I am now on the right med at the right dose. I am not stigmatized by the physician and we have built a good relationship. Virtual visits have been helpful. I am able to have a physician who does not live in my own community and get the care I need.”

“I would like to share what the OAT program has done for me. For many years under a doctor’s care I was on Oxycodone and needed to come off. I was in the hospital for three weeks and it was the worst thing I ever went through. The Nurse Prescribers at the OAT program were vital in my recovery as I have stayed clean for a year now and don’t know what I would have done without them. They are so caring and invested in my recovery that I feel I can share anything with them and they have done everything in their power to suggest support, listen and encourage. I know they are probably overworked, but they never turn their backs. They are wonderful at what they do, and without them, I may have given up and relapsed. Instead, I am very proud to say I have a year in recovery. I could never repay what they have done for me, and in today’s world someone who sincerely cares is rare. I would recommend this program to anyone and feel blessed to have this resource.”

“I’ve been coming to the OAT clinic almost a year now and it has helped me change my life. The Nurse Prescribers there are easy to talk to, understanding and non-judgemental. With their help and knowledge of what medications would help my withdrawals, they helped find the right program. I am on the Sublocade (buprenorphine) program, and with it I was able to get my life back to normal rather than depending on something everyday just to get me through. I’m able to spend time with my kids and not have to worry about appointments every day. I definitely would not have been able to beat my drug habit if there was no clinic like this to go to. Thank you sooo much.”


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