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HomeNewsHIV North mobile consumption site on track for fall 2018

HIV North mobile consumption site on track for fall 2018

Stats show 1.8 people die in Alberta every day due to drug overdoses. In the first six weeks of 2018 Alberta Health says there were 74 deaths around the province, four of those in the North.

HIV North has been working hard to address the situation locally. Grande Prairie had the highest rate of fatal opioid overdoses in Alberta in 2017. There were 26 apparent accidental deaths related to fentanyl in the city last year, giving it a rate of 33.8 per 100,000 residents.

Sarah Boxall has been working as the Project Coordinator on their mobile consumption site application. She says they wrapped up some community engagement sessions and an online survey in April.

“There are some concerns of course, but [also] a lot of constructive feedback which we are going to use in the process of developing project to look at the best way to implement this for the community. So, it was a lot of really good suggestions for us.”

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25 people attended the public information sessions and there were 122 responses to an online survey option. Boxall says supplying people with the correct information is key.

“We’re able to walk with people through the different information sessions and answer their questions. Towards the end we were seeing peoples opinions kind of develop and some of their previous opinions change.”

The survey and engagement sessions helped the group compile a report to submit with their application for a supervised consumption site. They are also currently waiting for a federal exemption as well.

The mobile unit is an idea that is already functioning in Kelowna and Kamloops. HIV North is working with the same group that designed the B.C. units, IRIDIA, to build the nearly 30 ft long van. Boxall says it will be fully equipped.

“It’s going to have all kinds of medical supplies. We’re going to have Naloxone, AED’s, we’re going to have trained staff to respond to all kinds of overdoses or adverse reactions to substances. We’ll also have security cameras and panic buttons.”

The price tag on the unit wasn’t immediately available, but Boxall says the do plan to host an open house for the public.

Boxall says they hope to be operational by October or Novermber. Until then she adds they remain focused on education, promoting safe consumption and supplying Naloxone to those who are looking for it.

HIV North began examining the idea of a supervised consumption site in February, 2017.

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