Overdose prevention site coming to Guelph Community Health Centre

The Ministry of Health has recently approved Guelph Community Health Centre's application to get an overdose prevention site at the end of April.

The site opening in April will have two injection booths with on-site medical staff

The Ministry of Health has recently approved Guelph Community Health Centre's application to get an overdose prevention site at the end of April. (Guelph Community Health Centre/ Facebook)

A temporary overdose prevention site will operate out of Guelph Community Health Centre (GCHC) by the end of April, with two injection booths and on-site medical staff, that it will run for six months.

The Ministry of Health recently approved the joint application made with GCHC, the Guelph Family Health Team and ARCH, a HIV/AIDS community resource centre.

"We don't always recognize that opioid addiction and addiction in general does affect smaller communities," Raechelle Devereaux, executive director of GCHC, told CBC's The Morning Edition.

"I think that's what really positioned us to have an opportunity to prevent the increase of overdose deaths we're seeing at a provincial level and we are really hopeful the overdose prevention site will play a role in helping us do that."

Prime location

The overdose prevention site will operate out of GCHC's downtown location because the centre already provides a number of services for people with health issues, including addiction.

"They come to our site already to access our primary care services, to see doctors and nurse practitioners, to access the rapid access addiction clinic that is also located at our downtown location." Devereaux said.

"They are also already visiting to access our needle exchange program."

Syringes distributed by a harm reduction program at the GCHC downtown location saw 35 visitors each day and distributed almost 278,000 syringes between February 2017 and January 2018.

The City of Guelph will have a temporary overdose prevention site operating out of Guelph Community Health Centre by the end of April. The Ministry of Health recently approved Guelph CHC's application to operate a temporary overdose prevention site for six months. 7:00

What the site will look like

At the upcoming site, services will range from supervised injection, distribution of harm reduction supplies, the  distribution of naloxone and the disposal of used supplies.

Devereaux said that injection will be the only form of consumption at the site, but staff will look at intranasal and peer-assisted injection as future options. 

Aside from medical staff and injection booths, there will also be a quiet space available for individuals to use.

GCHC will take the overdose prevention site a step further by connecting individuals with addictions services and other services that are offered at their downtown centre.

Devereaux said that the overdose prevention site will operate for six months starting end of April or early May, but Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health and the Wellington Drug Strategy are working on a needs assessment to potentially implement a more permanent site.

"We will really look to those experts to really guide what is the longer term need, also where is the longer term location," she said.

About the Author

Carmen Ponciano

Associate Producer

Carmen Ponciano is an associate producer and web writer for CBC K-W.