After it was given the green light by Health Canada at the end of May, a new supervised injection service opens this week in Vancouver.
The Powell Street Getaway Resource Centre will be be open seven days a week, from 8 am to 11 pm.
Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, visited the new centre on Thursday.
“Meeting the dedicated and passionate front-line staff who work here, it’s clear that this service will have a profound effect on the whole community,” said Darcy in a release.
“Not only will it prevent overdose deaths, it will provide potentially life-changing opportunities to connect people to the mental health and addictions services they need.”
Two harm reduction workers and one licensed practical nurse will be on shift to supervise and monitor for signs and symptoms of an overdose at the five booths, teach clients safer injection practices, and refer clients to other health care services, such as substance use treatment and counselling.
The Powell Street Getaway is only the second supervised injection site to open in North America, after Insite, which opened in Vancouver some 14 years ago.
In the release, Dr. Patricia Daly, Chief Medical Health Officer at Vancouver Coastal Health, said the new centre is urgently needed.
“We know from research at Insite that supervised injection services prevent overdose deaths and help connect people to treatment, which is what is so badly needed right now,” said Daly.
“At Insite, there were 214,898 visits last year with zero deaths. And staff treated 1,781 overdoses, which equals 1,781 mothers’, sons’, and friends’ lives saved.”
The Powell Street Getaway, Daly added, “will be another place for people to access these life-saving services.”