Photo: The interior of the mobile medical unit, courtesy PHSA
In response to the increasing number of overdose-related deaths, VCH is opening additional health-care supports including the BC Mobile Medical Unit and overdose prevention sites in the Downtown Eastside where we are seeing many overdoses.
Two sites open today at VANDU (380 East Hastings Street) and Portland Hotel Society Washington Needle Depot (177 E. Hastings Street). Teams will provide people who use illicit drugs with a safe space to be monitored. Staff will be equipped with naloxone and appropriate training for overdose response.
The sites are an example of VCH staff’s ability to be nimble and act quickly to address this growing health crisis.
“It’s an incredible effort by VCH staff to creatively and tirelessly put these life-saving initiatives into place so quickly,” says Laura Case, chief operating officer Vancouver Community. The request for more supports to help tackle the overdose crisis came from government only days ago, with health authorities, municipalities and other stakeholders tasked to rapidly develop and put in place ways to safely support drug users.
Along with these two sites, the Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) will be stationed at 58 West Hastings starting December 13. The MMU, In partnership with the City of Vancouver and Provincial Health Services Authority, will provide an alternative medical care unit for patients who overdose. It will take pressure off emergency departments, particularly St. Paul’s Hospital which currently sees the majority of overdose patients in Vancouver, and allow paramedics to avoid waiting at the ER, freeing them up more quickly for the next 911 call.
VCH continues its work to apply for permanent supervised injection services.