(File photo)                                (File photo)

(File photo) (File photo)

Vernon overdose prevention site planning update: Interior Health

The service is expected to begin in summer 2019, however the actual implementation date and location for the services will be determined through the procurement process.

Interior Health will be undertaking a competitive procurement process seeking proposals from qualified proponents who are able to deliver overdose prevention services in Vernon, including a fixed overdose prevention site.

A Request for Proposals will be posted to the BC Bid website this week. The service is expected to begin in summer 2019, however the actual implementation date and location for the services will be determined through the procurement process.

“While Interior Health will provide funding and oversight, the overdose prevention site will be operated by a community partner,” according to an Interior Health press release Monday. “Establishing an overdose prevention site in Vernon is an important addition to the continuum of health-care services for people with opioid use disorders. Other components include Opioid Agonist Treatments (such as methadone and Suboxone), intensive day and residential treatment programs, distribution of harm reduction supplies including Naloxone, and supportive recovery services.”

Related: Vernon overdose prevention site a priority: Interior Health

What is an overdose prevention site?

Overdose prevention sites provide designated spaces to monitor people who use drugs and ensure that Naloxone; other lifesaving first aid is available in the event of an overdose. Unlike supervised consumption (injection) sites, overdose prevention sites do not require an application for exemption from federal drug laws.

“In B.C. overdose prevention sites are usually judgement-free, safe spaces that offer a continuum of services: education, linking people to substance use services, drug checking, and the distribution of harm reduction supplies,” according to Interior Health.

International research has found that in addition to saving lives, providing designated spaces for people to use drugs can be beneficial to the surrounding community in other ways, with a reduction of public drug use and reduced numbers of inappropriately discarded needles.

According to Interior health, these types of services have proven to:

  • Save lives – no one has died in an overdose prevention site/supervised consumption service in B.C.;
  • Reduce sharing of needles that cause HIV and hepatitis C;
  • Increase the use of substance use treatment services;
  • Provide opportunities to connect people to health-care services, housing and other supports;
  • Help decrease hospitalizations and associated health-care costs.

There are currently more than 30 overdose prevention and supervised consumption sites operating in communities throughout the province. Within Interior Health there are currently supervised consumption services in Kamloops and Kelowna, and an independently-operated overdose prevention site in Nelson.

For more information visit www.interiorhealth.ca.

Related: Okanagan College to develop wellness strategy for drug use

Related: Vernon needle clean-up program starts in spring

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