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British Columbia

Supervised consumption site a doorway to supports for Kamloops, IH says – Kamloops News

Not only do people walking through the doors of Interior Health’s overdose prevention center in Kamloops have access to supervised use — a variety of other support services are also available, according to the health agency.

Last spring, the supervised consumption point moved from a mobile home – normally parked near Sixth Avenue and Seymour Street – to a site at 235 Lansdowne Street.

Carla Mantie, clinical operations manager for mental health and substance use at IH, said the supervised use point is linked to other services housed in the building, including counseling, treatment support and recovery services.

Mantie said moving the overdose prevention center to the building has given customers a better opportunity for all-round services.

“We were in the motorhome visiting someone and trying to connect them to counseling or a doctor. And literally between the five blocks that was the RV and Lansdowne, they couldn’t make the appointment,” Mantie said.

“This offers people the opportunity to receive comprehensive services in one place and area.”

Jessica Mensinger, clinical operations manager for mental health and substance use at IH, said the overdose prevention space is “an entry point” for people who use substances.

She said the site offers support in the form of monitored use, drug screening, education about overdose prevention strategies and naloxone to-go and overdose response.

Clients can also access basic nursing care — like treating wounds and frostbite — and referrals to housing, counseling, and case management. Other services include the community withdrawal management program, opioid agonist treatment nurses and overdose prevention nurses.

According to Mensinger, there were 495 visits to the overdose use page in November 2022 – the latest monthly data available. Just over 90 visits were for supervised use and 75 visits for care services. Other visits were for drug control, assessments and referrals.

A registered social worker and nurse work at the overdose prevention facility and a life skills worker has recently joined the team. The site also has a colleague, two team leaders and nurses who do outreach work and help run a withdrawal management program in the community.

Mensinger said when customers arrive at the overdose prevention site, they are first greeted by staff who conduct an assessment.

“We’re not opening up this space to people who have never consumed in this way before, it’s really for a very specific demographic. Our nurse and social worker will get to know that person, understand what they are using, how they are using it, why they want to use the service, and provide training on how to use it more safely,” Mensinger said.

Mensinger said it’s difficult to say how often staff will need to intervene in the event of an overdose because it fluctuates due to an unpredictable drug supply. She noted that there were no overdose cases in November, although they have occurred in recent months.

According to Mensinger, there were no overdose deaths in this monitored consumption room — or any other such location.

The Thompson Regional Hospital District heard last week that Interior Health is planning to renovate the facility to bring even more mental health and drug use services into the building.

“Our vision is then to be able to offer all of our services here so that a person can have their needs met no matter what they need,” Mantie said.

Mensinger said their hope is to consolidate the majority of community-based drug use services into one building, along with primary care services.

“There is a lot to do. We have a few Renos planned in the coming months, but I think the ultimate vision is going to be a really, really good one for our community,” she said.

At the TRHD meeting last week, Kamloops Mayor Reid Hamer-Jackson and Coun. Dale Bass said they were pleased to see the announcement of the future expansion of the Landsdowne facility, with Hamer-Jackson encouraging people to visit the site.

Mensinger said services like the monitored point of use can be divisive, and when they first moved in they received “a lot of questions”.

She said they conducted tours of the site to “demystify the service” and educate people about the range of services offered to all community members.

Mantie said they’re “invested in being good neighbors.”

“If a concern arises, whether it’s through security or information, media, just to spread the word, we deal with it immediately,” Mantie said.

“Our doors are open,” Mensinger added.

“If anyone wants to know more about our services, come by for a tour. Feel free to reach out and we’d love to spend some time and network.”

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