Fentanyl pills. Photo credit: Contributed

Solving the drug overdose tragedy

Interior Health chairman says problem is both medical and social

While Interior Health has adopted measures to combat the opioid overdose epidemic over the past year, still more needs to be done, says the chairman of Interior Health.

In Kelowna this year, there were 60 overdose fatalities as of August, but only three recorded in September. So far this year, the overdose fatality count is 17 in Vernon and 33 in Kamloops.

Dr. Doug Cochrane, appointed as IH board chair in September, says until the overdose fatality rate starts decreasing rather than increasing, more solutions need to be sought out.

“We’re not keeping people safe enough and that’s why the (overdose fatality) numbers keep increasing so how to change that is something we will continue to work on concurrently with what is being done elsewhere across the province and across country,” said Cochrane.

Cochrane, who was appointed as chair of the IH board by Health Minister Adrian Dix, said IH’s aggressive, multi-faceted approach has been consistent with B.C.’s public health officer declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency and how to address it.

Related: Overdose-fighting mobile units ready to roll

“What we need to do is keep people safe, work with them when they are ready for a change and support them when they are trying to address their drug dependency,” Cochrane said.

“Our challenge is how do we keep people safe who use substances where the source of those substances are unknown, which is where the fentanyl plays into it.

“I don’t know yet where the health care system will end up on this, but I know we can’t rely on what we’ve done in the past. There are still people dying and that is a tragedy.

“The other aspect of this is surviving the experience of overdosing for some people will cause them to open a door to other defined forms of treatment, which means providing access to more treatment beds and facilities. Community support will be the next step.”

Cochrane said drug use is often related to emotional or physical pain, which is as much a social issue as it is a medical one.

“People become desperate to do whatever they can to deal with pain and that affects a vast array of socio-economic groups. That pain can come in many different forms.

“Dealing with that pain I think is where the support for individuals lies. We as a health authority and as a society have a responsibility to act for and support them.”

Watch for more from senior regional reporter Barry Gerding’s exclusive interview with the new Interior Health board chairman Dr. Doug Cochrane on the Black Press web network and sister newspapers across the Okanagan-Shuswap region.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Traffic stopped on Highway 97B due to crash

The incident took place south of Mellors Store.

Comedian/magician visiting Lake Country

Wes Barker is performing at Creekside Theatre, Nov. 25

‘Listen to your gut’ urges injured skier

Mike Shaw was told he’d never walk again after an accident four years ago, but he defied the odds

Nasty note on windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Families of missing Shuswap women call for action

Birthday of missing woman Ashley Simpson remembered during rally in Yankee Flats

Drones used in search for clues about missing women

A volunteer search party was supported by professional drone operators

Panthers advance; Maroons fall to Dukes

The Vernon Panthers are moving to the B.C. Subway Bowl semifinals, while the Fulton Maroons are done

Back-to-back wins for the Vees this weekend

Penticton Vees take down Capitals 10-1

Start on time: Canucks looking to shake first-period struggles

Canucks centre Bo Horvat said the formula for getting a leg up is there for everyone to see

COMMUTER ALERT: Snowfall warnings in effect across B.C.

Travelling this weekend? Check the forecasts before hitting the road

Tips for keeping your personal data safe, from the experts

It’s important to keep your ‘online footprint’ safe

Lights to turn blue ahead of funeral for fallen Abbotsford police officer

Buildings across B.C. are going blue Saturday night in honour of Const. John Davidson

Ride-share pioneer drives up quietly to B.C. battleground

Lyft approaches B.C. without Uber bombast, eyes small towns

Boomer radio expands

Kelowna resident Allen Holender continues to expand his network

Most Read