In the photo: This trailer is VCH’s fifth overdose prevention site. This modified first aid trailer at 62 East Hastings Street replaces a pop-up tent that opened in September. The trailer was donated by EllisDon Construction and Boxx Modular Canada. Photo courtesy of Black Diamond Group.
According to the BC Coroners Service, from January 1 to November 30, 2016 there were 755 overdose (OD) deaths due to illicit drug use across BC. Fentanyl was detected in 60% of them. 193 of the deaths occurred in the Vancouver Coastal Health region, including 164 in Vancouver, 10 in Richmond, 5 in Powell River and 9 in North Vancouver.
Overdoses in VCH urban areas
From January 1 to December 24, 2016 there were 6,797 illicit or unknown drug overdoses presenting to VCH emergency departments (ED). More than one quarter of them were opioid related. 87% of them went to hospitals in Vancouver. The majority (73%) of them to St. Paul’s Hospital.
The substance isn’t known for almost half (41%) of all presenting overdoses. When the substance was known the most commonly patient-reported substance was heroin (24%).
The majority of overdoses occurred in males (70%) and those aged 19 to 39 years (59%).
Approximately 9% of overdose patients were admitted to hospital while 74% of patients were discharged from the ED and 17% left against medical advice.
Of overdose patients to VCH urban EDs 48% live in Vancouver, 4% were from Richmond, 5% were from Coastal Urban, and 1% 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.
Overdoses in VCH rural areas
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 21 ODs reported, of which 43% were opioid related. Of these 21 OD’s, 8 were admitted, 2 were transferred, 7 were discharged, 1 left against medical advice, 1 resulted in death, and for 1 the outcome was unknown.
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:
- Added four overdose prevention sites and deployed BC Mobile Medical Unit. Media announcement for the first several sites.
- Using emergency room data staff are checking in on people with a history of non-fatal overdose to offer opiate replacement therapy (ORT).
- St. Paul’s Hospital new Rapid Access Addictions Clinic (RAAC) now houses a rapid access zone where five people can get induced on Suboxone simultaneously
- Distributed carfentanil warning to service providers
- Presented or supported information forums at Vancouver City Hall, Carnegie Centre, and the BC Coalition of Nursing Associations
- Posted tips for parents and youth www.vch.ca/overdose
- Completed naloxone training of staff across VCH so that now all 14 emergency departments and urgent care centres can give patients at risk of an overdose a take-home naloxone kit upon discharge.
- Held media announcement about take-home naloxone kits in Howe Sound area.
- There are now 71 non-acute sites throughout VCH where take-home naloxone kits are available for the public. An online map is now available showing sites where people can obtain them, and aren’t required to be registered clients of the particular program.
- Distributed news release regarding the fifth overdose site
- Provided overdose prevention, intervention and education to all VCH funded sites, community partner and non-profit sites and private SRO’s.
- Provided support to Atira’s Women’s Resource Society and Property Management Inc. in creating overdose prevention rooms in supportive housing facilities. 10 opened this month.
We are also finalizing several other strategies; details will be released in the coming weeks and months.
For a complete list of actions to date and info about overdose prevention such as how to use naloxone and where free take-home kits are available visit www.vch.ca/overdose.