As of Sept. 1, Island Health will offer a multi-pronged model of overdose prevention services (OPS) in the Comox Valley to better meet the diverse needs of people who use substances, and to improve access for those who do not use OPS and remain at high risk of overdose.
“Island Health is pleased to provide Comox Valley with a model that will support clients, broaden access and enhance our ability to reach a wider range of people who can benefit from overdose prevention services,” Medical Health Officer Dr. Charmaine Enns said in a news release. “The new model will also strengthen linkages to social and health care supports for this population.”
AVI Health and Community Services Society (AVI) has provided OPS in the Comox Valley since 2017, and will continue to do so at its current location and service hours until Aug. 31.
“We are grateful to AVI and its staff for delivering this life-saving service in the Comox Valley,” Enns said. “People are alive today as a result.”
“The overdose crisis has hit our community hard,” Courtenay-Comox MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard added. “This new multi-pronged model of overdose prevention services will meet people’s needs exactly where they are at.”
Island Health’s new model features three services: a designated location, “episodic OPS” and the Lifeguard overdose app.
Overdose prevention services will be offered at 941C England Ave. in Courtenay. Co-located with Island Health’s Mental Health and Substance Use service, the OPS will have two booths for witnessed consumption; access to harm reduction supplies and information; and on-site connections to mental health, social, rehabilitation, treatment, recovery and overall wellness services. Walk-in witnessed consumption services will be available Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
On weekends, clients will be able to access episodic OPS (e-OPS), which supports people in a less formal setting that complements other health or social services they are receiving. e-OPS can be made mobile and be provided through outreach to homes, shelters and other facilities.
The Lifeguard App is a new made-in-B.C. resource available in the Valley. Lifeguard supports people when they use substances alone; it does so by alerting emergency responders and others in the immediate surroundings through an alarm if a person is unresponsive after using substances.