During this time of uncertainty and leading into the future, the need for an innovative and comprehensive approach to care is greater than ever before.
In September, it was reported that the number of deaths in BC caused by illicit drug overdoses had surpassed the year’s total in 2019. Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is making it a priority to address substance abuse and its impact with a Withdrawal Management Centre planned for East Vancouver.
VCH embarked on an engaged process, which included input from the community and thoughtful consideration of local housing and diverse health care needs. After this, the design of an expanded withdrawal management service began, in partnership with BC Housing and the City of Vancouver. The new service has a goal to break ground in spring 2021.
“I feel like the system, and all of the different resources that are scattered all over the city can be extremely confusing for people, especially when somebody’s really struggling with their addiction, and they don’t know where to start,” says Vancouver nurse Kristin Nelson.
She continues, “Being able to go somewhere that they can easily navigate within the system and find the resource that’s the best fit for them in that moment is extremely important to get somebody started with their recovery.”
When the new Withdrawal Management Centre is built, it will facilitate life-saving recoveries and ongoing wellness for clients. However, future donations will be needed to expand the options available for patients and help ensure the best outcomes.
“I think philanthropy will be key in providing some help with our research program, that we intend to embed in our services,” says Dr. Ronald Joe, Medical Director of Substance Use Services at Vancouver Community, Vancouver Coastal Health. “The impact of any donation can be tremendous.”
Withdrawal management (also known as detoxification or detox) supports an individual to overcome physical and/or psychological dependence on a substance to achieve at least a temporary state of abstinence by alleviating the physical symptoms of withdrawal.
It provides an opportunity to treat any concurrent physical or psychiatric conditions and facilitate referral to ongoing treatment.
“I would say that relapse is an extremely common part of recovery,” says Nelson. “We approach it in a very non-judgmental and compassionate way because we want clients to not feel that shame and guilt that comes with relapse.”
Dr. Joe shares this sentiment. “The benefit of the Withdrawal Management Centre is that we’re going to provide a warm, welcoming environment that’s therapeutic for individuals who have problematic substance use,” he says.
“This new centre would have a greater ability to provide a variety of services that are more individualized.”
A key difference with the new centre, according to Dr. Joe, would be to integrate research into the program, allowing for rapid learning and to improve the outcomes of individuals who come to the program.
“I’ve personally seen individuals go from the streets to complete success. And in some cases, they’ve even come to work for us,” he adds.
Accessible services, like those that will be offered by the centre, are vital to providing care to marginalized and vulnerable communities, bringing a greater opportunity for healing and recovery.
Advancing virtual health
Beyond the Withdrawal Management Centre, VCH is working to make virtual health accessible for patients.
Early adoption of these practices allow health care providers to connect with vulnerable populations, those with accessibility concerns, patients in remote communities, and those who may prefer to receive service digitally in situations like a pandemic.
When the pandemic struck, VCH was able to offer more robust virtual health services for patients. And for patients, having access to trusted health care providers through virtual health services means a greater level of care.
At the same time, the use of such virtual services reduces the burden on the province’s health care system. But whether virtually or in-person, patients across the province still need access to the best medical experts.
Supporting BC’s health care heroes
Vancouverites can now help support the urgent needs of our health care system and the medical teams who save lives daily through the High Fives for Health Care initiative launched by VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation. Joining the challenge is as simple as donating $5 and spreading word of the cause on social media.
Supporting BC health care through the aforementioned fundraising campaign means we’re investing in the future of care for everyone across the province. To help fund initiatives like the Withdrawal Management Centre and virtual health in BC, donate via High Fives for Health Care.