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October 27, 2017 7:47 pm

No Safe Injection Site in P.G.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016 @ 5:48 AM

Prince George, B.C.- Recent measures announced by the Ministry of Health to  reduce the  number of  opioid overdoses may  have left the impression that Prince George  has  a safe injection site , but that is not the case.Northern Health’s  Chief Medical Health Officer, Dr.  Sandra Allison   sets the record straight “We are not helping people with their injections, we are not helping them  understand the consequences of their actions,  we are not  doing counselling, we are not helping them  select a site  for an injection  on their body because that is  what supervision happens at InSight ( supervised injection site in the lower mainland)  that is not anything that we are doing.   We just know that people are injecting and that people are   dying and we need to do  something more.”

To that end,  the hours  and staffing at the HIV AIDS Prevention program ( needle exchange) have been extended.  Dr, Allison says  Northern Health is  aware that  for years people have been injecting in  the downtown in many different places, including alleys, doorways and  bathrooms of  fast food outlets, “What  we’ve found over the past three to five months is that our staff (at the Needle exchange) are responding  to overdoses,  in fact, leaving our site and running up the street , having been beckoned by users,  so we really appreciate the steps Minister Lake has taken to provide us with  space and the time  to allow our staff to be more prepared to respond.”

She says it is not uncommon for someone who  has injected to arrive  at the needle exchange and collapse on the floor,  so while  the extended hours  and  extra staff  can’t prevent   an overdose,   the changes should assist in helping  those who are in crisis  by having more people available for  longer  periods to  respond to the needs  of those who are overdosing.

“Is this how I want to respond to an overdose crisis? No”  says Dr. Allison,  “I would  like to address all of the upstream drivers but I cannot.”

There are challenges  to meeting the necessary requirements to  establish a safe injection site,   a proposition which currently isn’t practical for Northern  Health  given the  vast geographic   area the  Health Authority covers and  the remoteness of many communities.   Dr. Allison says that for this region, the  move  should be towards safe injection services rather than a  specific safe  injection site.

In the meantime,  the move is to provide extra hours and staff   who can answer the call  when needed “We are really trying to do a better job of  being able to respond to an overdose.”




I thought all of PG was a safe injection site.

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