AIDS Vancouver Island and Island Health implementing overdose prevention services in the Comox Valley

COURTENAY—As part of the Province’s response to the overdose emergency, AIDS Vancouver Island (AVI) and Island Health have implemented an overdose prevention site at 355 6th Street in Courtenay.

The Courtenay-based overdose prevention service began operating on March 27. The service is being operated by AVI with funding from Island Health. AVI is adding the overdose prevention service to existing services already in place at 355 6th Street, including a range of health and harm reduction services.

The overdose prevention service provides a place where people who use illicit opioid drugs can be safely monitored and treated immediately if they overdose. Staff at the site are equipped with naloxone and are trained for overdose response. The overdose prevention service is expected to be in operation as long as needed. The service will be available during regular business hours, Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (closed from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m. for lunch). Weekend opening hours are anticipated in the next month.

Overdose Prevention Services are part of a broad overdose response strategy that includes education, prevention, outreach, harm reduction, naloxone kits, counselling, substance use treatment and supports, and access to mental health services.

Between January 1 and December 31, 2016, 155 people died from illicit drug overdose in Island Health, including 23 deaths in the North Island region, identifying the need to respond to the current health crisis with services for overdose prevention, and save lives.

In July 2016, Premier Christy Clark appointed a Joint Task Force on Overdose Response to provide expert leadership and advice to the Province on additional actions to prevent and respond to overdoses in B.C. As part of the response, law enforcement is working at all levels of government to interdict the supply of toxic drugs, and health officials are working to address the immediate and longer-term health needs. To that end, B.C. is expanding access to life-saving naloxone, supervised consumption services, and opioid addiction treatment medications and services, as well as improving the effectiveness of addiction treatment and access to appropriate substance use supports.

Media Inquiries:
AIDS Vancouver Island:
Sarah Sullivan
AVI Manager, Comox Valley and Campbell River

Island Health: 
Valerie Wilson 
Director, Communications and Community Engagement