Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) and Portland Hotel Society (PHS) are launching a pilot project that will see Insite, North America’s first sanctioned supervised injection site, open 24 hours a day on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday on the weeks that social assistance cheques are distributed. The pilot project begins on August 24th and will continue for up to six months, at which time its effectiveness will be evaluated.
Vancouver Coastal Health is seeing an increase in the number of people overdosing at Insite as well as overdose visits to emergency departments during welfare cheque week. Doctor Ronald Joe, Associate Medical Director, Substance Use Services, says the pilot project will help determine if the targeted intervention makes a difference in the overdose statistics.
From January to May 2016, VCH recorded an 80 per cent increase in emergency department visits for opioid related overdoses during welfare cheque distribution week, compared to the previous week. Insite observed a 50 percent increase in overdoses during the same period, specifically, the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of cheque week. There was also an increase in overdoses during the six hour period that Insite was closed each day.
Despite more than three million injections and nearly five thousand overdose interventions, Insite hasn’t had a single overdose death since it opened in 2003.
- 263,713 visits to the site by 6,532 unique individuals
- An average of 722 visits per day
- An average of 440 injection room visits per day
- 768 overdose incidents
- 5,359 clinical treatment interventions
- Principle substances reported were heroin (54% of instances) methamphetamine (23% of instances) and cocaine (10% of instances).
- 27% of participants were women
- 20% of participants were aboriginal
- 5,368 referrals to other social and health services
- 464 referrals to Onsite detox
Insite is North America’s first legal sanctioned supervised injection site. Vancouver Coastal Health operates, and provides all the funding, senior administrative and health care workers for the facility. Vancouver Coastal Health gets the bulk of our funding from the BC Ministry of Health Services. PHS Community Services Society provides administrative and peer support services at Insite through contract with Vancouver Coastal Health.
The pilot project to extend the hours at Insite is part of a comprehensive response plan to prevent overdose, encourage safer drug use and provide treatment options for people with substance use disorders. This initiative supports the work of the newly formed Joint Task Force on Overdose Response.