According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to March 31, 2017 there were 347 suspected overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. 116 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 100 in Vancouver.
From January 1 to March 25, 2017 there were 1,792 illicit or unknown drug overdoses at VCH emergency departments (ED). Opioids accounted for 32% of the visits with heroin being the most commonly reported substance. 38% of the overdose visits were due to an unknown substance.
- 87% of the overdoses were seen at Vancouver EDs. The majority (72%) of them went to St. Paul's Hospital.
- The majority of overdoses occurred in males (71%) and those aged 19 to 39 years (59%).
Of overdose patients to VCH urban EDs, 47% live in Vancouver, 4% were from Richmond, 5% were from Coastal Urban, and 2% were from Coastal Rural. The majority of Vancouver residents were from City Centre and the Downtown Eastside. The remaining patients live in other health authority regions or didn't state where they are from.
Between December 13, 2016 and March 26, 2017, there were 2,562 visits to the Mobile Medical Unit in Vancouver. Among those, 22% visited as a result of an illicit drug overdose. The majority of patients were male (73%) and the median patient age was 37 years (range: 15-77 years). From January 1 to March 25, 2017, there were 30,651 visits used injection room at Insite. Among those, 1.5% visits resulted in an overdose. In December, five Overdose Prevention Sites opened in Vancouver. Between December 8, 2016 and March 26, 2017, there were 42,810 visits to the five sites. In that same time period there were 318 overdose reversals reported. In VCH rural hospitals (Bella Coola General Hospital, RW Large Memorial Hospital, Sechelt Hospital, and Powell River General Hospital) OD reporting began in June 2016. Since then there have been 55 ODs reported, of which 47% were opioid related. The majority of ODs (67%) were at Sechelt Hospital.
Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care are extremely concerned about the high number of overdoses and overdose deaths in our region and throughout the province and continue to take steps to respond. VCH & PHC and its partners are taking a number of steps to reduce opioid/fentanyl-related overdoses, including new actions this month:
- Organized a weekly meeting for frontline workers to share information about overdoses.
- Presented to West Vancouver Police (Integrated First Nations Unit) trained them to use take-home naloxone.
- Added more sites within the region to have take-home naloxone kits to distribute to those at risk. There are now 99 non-acute sites throughout VCH where the kits are available for the public.
- Held naloxone use training at 14 different sites and organizations, including Unions Gospel Mission and John Howard Society.
- Creating, with the City of Vancouver, Tenant Overdose Response Organizers in private SRO's.
- Opened DTES Connections on-demand treatment clinic.
- Opened the Jack & Leone Carlile Centre a 10-bed unit for youth aged 13 to 18 years. The Centre will focus on assessment & stabilization for youth with mental-health & substance-use challenges.
- BC Government announced the substantial completion of the Joseph & Rosalie Segal & Family Health Centre which will care for people with mental-health or substance-use challenges.
- Announced the upcoming opening of the HUB at St. Paul's which will unite emergency care, rapid access to treatment & a transition centre for people with mental health & substance use challenges.
- BC Government announced $465,000 for Richmond Addiction Services Society & Turning Point Recovery Society for support programs & services for people with mental health & substance use issues.