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Vernon’s downtown mental health and substance use centre looking to bring in more nurses

The downtown centre currently has one nurse prescriber
Interior Health’s overdose prevention site in Vernon is saving lives. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)

Vernon’s Downtown Mental Health and Substance Use (MHSU) centre has reached full capacity serving 125 people.

Interior Health updated council on the opioid crisis in the city and the success the program is having during Monday’s regular meeting.

Director of clinical operations Megan Thorne said the Vernon local health authority has seen the rate of toxic drug deaths nearly triple since 2016, reaching 58 per 100,000 people in 2021.

Thorne noted, however, the downtown centre has not seen any deaths since it opened.

The downtown MHSU centre offers wrap-around services, at home withdrawl treatment, harm reduction supplies, drug checking, and susbstance outreach.

The centre is the only one with a full-time nurse trained to prescribe medications to treat substance abuse. The hope is to train more nurses and have one working every day.

A memorial walk is being held April 14 starting at the downtown MHSU centre to mark the anniversary of the opioid emergency in B.C.

2021 was the deadliest year of the crisis as 2,224 British Columbians lost thier lives to toxic drugs.

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