Victoria – Island Health and PHS Community Services Society (PHS) have been given approval by Health Canada to open a supervised consumption service (SCS) on Johnson Street in Victoria.
The embedded service is for residents and registered guests at 844 Johnson Street, to help prevent and reverse overdoses and connect clients with treatment services in Victoria. The Johnson Street SCS is the first SCS to open on Vancouver Island. Supervised consumption services will be offered at the Johnson Street Community, effective immediately.
The service will be operated by PHS Community Services Society which has served vulnerable populations for over 25 years. PHS has operated the Insite supervised injection facility in Vancouver – the first of its kind in North America – since its inception in 2003.
Supervised consumption services offer a permanent suite of health services, including referrals to mental health counselling, links to an on-site nursing clinic and linkages to addiction treatment programs. A temporary overdose prevention site (OPS) has been operating at 844 Johnson Street since December 2016. The Johnson Street service will become part of a distributed, multi-site model of SCS and OPS sites in Victoria, and will strengthen links with treatment and recovery services both within the Johnson Street building and among other community-based services delivered by Island Health and other agencies.
The site includes a registration area where people can access harm reduction supplies, a consumption area that is monitored by trained staff, and a post-use area for further monitoring and engagement.
Island Health’s application for a SCS at 941 Pandora Avenue was approved in August 2017. The site requires extensive renovations and will open in spring/summer 2018. Island Health currently has nine SCS/OPS locations in its service area, four of these in Victoria pending the opening of the Pandora SCS. Between December 2016 and December 2, 2017, there have been more than 64,600 visits to the overdose prevention sites, with 579 overdoses and zero deaths.
The new supervised consumption site supports the work of the new Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions to address the overdose crisis. As part of the wide range of actions taken, partners across the health system continue to expand access to life-saving naloxone and opioid addiction treatments such as Suboxone and hydromorphone, open more overdose prevention sites, work with Health Canada on approvals to open additional supervised consumption sites and improve the system of substance use services.
Opioid crisis by the numbers:
• 1,208 people died of drug overdoses in B.C. in 2017 between January and October (198 on the Island)
• 82% of the people who died from drug overdoses were men
• 87.3% of drug overdoses occurred indoors
• 0 deaths at supervised consumption or overdose prevention sites
“The loss of life from the overdose crisis is staggering and we must use all the tools available to end this devastation hitting families all across the province,” said Judy Darcy, B.C.’s Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “Supervised consumption services, like the one opening in Victoria, are a critical service for our most vulnerable. Not only do they save lives by reversing and preventing overdose, but they also provide a safe place where people can be connected to counselling and other critical services so they have a real chance at starting recovery.”
“Supervised consumption services reduce harm from drugs and save people’s lives,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health Chief Medical Health Officer. “The opioid crisis has been devastating for our Island communities and it is our responsibility as health care providers to offer more supports and resources where they are needed.”
“We are thrilled that services provided at Johnson Street will become a permanent part of a network of sites in Victoria,” said Jennifer Breakspear, Executive Director, PHS Community Services Society. “This will ensure ongoing access to supports that are desperately needed in our community, and will be an important addition to the continuum of services and support we provide to Johnson Street Community residents.”
INTERVIEW OPPORTUNITY with Dr. Richard Stanwick
WHEN: December 14, 2017 at 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Royal Medical Building at 1900 Richmond Avenue, room 425
Island Health, one of seven health jurisdictions in British Columbia, provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and mainland communities north of Powell River.
With more than 20,000 staff, 1,900 physician partners, 6,000 volunteers, and the dedicated support of foundations and auxiliaries, Island Health delivers a broad range of health services, including: public health services, primary health care, home and community care, mental health and addictions services, acute care in hospitals, and much more across a huge, geographically diverse region.
Founded in 1993, PHS Community Services Society (PHS) is a BC-based non-profit housing, health care and community development agency. PHS operates and manages 21 low-barrier residences and over 1,200 units of rental housing in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., including emergency shelters and transitional housing. PHS develops, maintains and advocates for affordable housing for adults who have been marginalized as a result of homelessness, physical, mental health and behavioural issues, substance dependencies and more, and provides low-barrier harm reduction, drug treatment and primary health care services. For more information, visit www.phs.ca.