“It’s always great when you can be involved in a harm reduction program and provide education to patients that could potentially save their life,” says Registered Nurse and Patient Care Coordinator/Educator Krista Golden, who set up the take-home naloxone program at UBC Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre (UCC).
“Any patient who presents and is identified as a risk for an overdose (OD), whether the patient self-identifies as a user, or through our assessment, will be offered a kit. With the goal of harm reduction, we will distribute kits to a person who comes in off the street and feels they are at risk for OD and would like a kit,” says Krista.
Within the next few months, all 14 urgent care centres and emergency departments in the Vancouver Coastal Health region will have naloxone in stock for nurses and doctors to give to patients on discharge. There are 62 additional (non-acute) sites in the VCH region, including community health centres and harm reduction services, where the kits are available.
UBC students can also pick up a free naloxone kit on campus from Student Health Services if they think they are at risk of an overdose. With the kits, students receive training from a nurse on how to recognize the signs of an overdose, how to administer naloxone as well as information on drug use.
Between January and September 2016, there were eight illicit drug overdose visits to UBC Hospital’s UCC, compared with six for the same time period in 2015. “Although we see a relatively small number of illicit drug overdose visits at UBC Hospital’s Urgent Care Centre, it’s important that people who use substance – including recreational users – have access to naloxone,” says Dr. Réka Gustafson, medical health officer. “Naloxone works on the opioid class of drugs, which include heroin, fentanyl, morphine and methadone.”