Island Health's largest supervised consumption service opens next week

Victoria - The Pandora Supervised Consumption Centre opens June 18, 2018. Island Health’s largest supervised consumption service will allow people to safely use drugs while offering on-site supports and services as well as referrals and access to treatment whenever clients are ready to begin a recovery journey.

“Supervised consumption sites save lives,” said Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Opening more supervised consumption sites and overdose prevention sites in B.C. are important responses in how we are escalating our response to the overdose crisis. These sites help connect people to the supports they need and get them on their pathway to hope.”

The Supervised Consumption Service at 941 Pandora Avenue has ten consumptions booths, a waiting/reception and post-use areas, as well as a mental health counselling room, a nurse clinic room and a medication room. The facility will also continue to house Island Health’s Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) teams and associated clinical services.

“The opioid crisis continues to have a devastating impact on the people and communities we serve,” said Island Health Board Chair Leah Hollins. “The Pandora supervised consumption service is an important new tool that supports safer drug use while offering help and hope to people who are using drugs.”

Island Health is partnering with The Lookout Housing and Health Society whose harm reduction staff will provide supervision and education to ensure safer drug consumption, deliver crisis intervention and manage harm reduction supplies. SOLID Outreach Society’s team of peer harm reduction workers will provide supervision and education as well as support and advocacy. In addition to Island Health clinical staff, paramedics from BC Emergency Health Services will be on site, providing clinical expertise in support of the supervised consumptions teams.

“While Lookout has a long, proud history of providing compassionate supportive housing and health services to vulnerable people in the lower mainland, the Pandora service is our first Island-based program,” said Shayne Williams, Executive Director of Lookout Housing and Health Society. “We are eager to bring our judgement-free, caring and committed team to support people in Greater Victoria.”

“Our goal is to ensure these services are as welcoming, culturally safe and as non-clinical as possible,” said Jack Phillips, SOLID Executive Director. “Peer support and navigation is a vital component as we look to meet people with honesty and understanding to stop overdose deaths and ensure everyone has a safe place to go to use drugs.”

“The opioid crisis has had a deep impact on the health system and our paramedics,” said Linda Lupini, BCEHS Executive Vice-President. “While paramedics have saved thousands of lives responding to overdose calls, making paramedics part of an integrated healthcare team is expected to prevent harm, reduce emergency 9-1-1 calls and bring clinical overdose expertise to the centre and its clients.”

Operating hours at the Pandora supervised consumption service are 6:30 am to 8 pm, seven days a week including statutory holidays. The total cost to renovate the facility was $1.8 million.

“The City of Victoria welcomes added supports to save lives as street drugs continue to take a terrible toll on our community,” said Victoria Councillor Marianne Alto. “Combatting the opioid crisis must be a living partnership with the city, the province, health and mental health teams, police, social service providers, people who use drugs and residents. Supervised consumption services are an integral part of this response.”

“We will work closely with our neighbours and community partners to ensure our services are connected to supporting healthier communities,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “By providing a continuum of services, we are encouraging safer immediate health care through rapid access to opioid replacement therapies and mental health counselling, and we are also promoting broader lifestyle changes.”

Opioid facts:

  • 121,000 visits have been made to Island Health’s nine supervised consumption and overdose prevention sites since they’ve opened
  • 683 overdoses occurred at our supervised drug use sites
  • 0 people have died at our supervised drug use sites

Media inquiries:
Meribeth Burton