BC’s Secretary of State for Mental Health and Addiction was in Vernon, BC on Monday to announce new services for youthExtensions of existing services and additional staff.
The announcement comes after a particularly brutal year for drug deaths in the Okanagan.
In 2021, 73 people died in Kelowna alone. The last time many people in the city succumbed to drug poisoning was in 2017.
42 people died in Vernon last year. That’s the most illegal drug deaths in the northern Okanagan community since the drug overdose crisis began.
While announcing new services, Secretary Sheila Malcolmson also raised questions about services Vernon and the Okanagan still need to address the drug poisoning crisis.
The area does not yet have the same access to mandatory safe care as the coast.
“Prescribed safe care is available in the Okanagan through the health departments … but it’s a very fair point to say there’s more available in the federally funded ones SAFE clinics formed in Victoria and Vancouver, Malcolmson said.
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Malcolmson said the province is investing in expanding safe care, but it will take time.
“It’s work that’s ongoing and we wish it could go faster, but … we’re building a new treatment element that doesn’t exist anywhere else in Canada, and we’re doing it through the health authorities, who are also responding to two emergencies in the Struggling in the public health sector and under so much pressure,” the minister said.
The minister has not committed himself to a concrete timetable for the expansion of safe supply.
“I don’t want to give anyone false hope as to how quickly the full range of all prescribed materials will be available and how many precise access points there are, but I do want people to know that we’ve heard, both from drug users and from doctors that people want more access points and more types of secure coverage,” Malcolmson said.
For those looking for alternatives to toxic drug supplies, Malcolmson’s announcement Monday included news that a nurse working at Interior Health’s downtown center for mental health and substance use will now be able to “more Prescribing options for drug-assisted treatment of opioid use disorders.”
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Earlier this month, a panel of experts from the BC Coroners Service Precisely secure supply as an important means of combating the drug poisoning crisis.
Malcolmson was also asked about the lack of a publicly funded detox facility in Vernon other than the hospital. a gap that could make it difficult for some to access treatment.
“Some of the programs announced today involve outpatient treatment, in some cases more of a home care approach, and bed-based treatment and bed-based detoxification is not always the first route,” Malcolmson said.
“Nonetheless, you can expect to see further expansion in detoxification over the three years of our budget plan. We know it is necessary. We know the need is great. We inherited the failure to have these systems at the time this duel public health emergency occurred. We are working on building this system.
– with files from Amy Judd
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https://globalnews.ca/news/8682930/detox-safe-supply-vernon/ Minister answers questions about detoxification and safe care during visit to Vernon – Okanagan