British Columbia·Photos

A look inside Kelowna's new overdose prevention site

Overdose prevention sites opened in Kelowna, Kamloops, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria this month to help combat the growing drug overdose crisis in B.C. Here is an inside look at one of those sites and the services available to drug users.

Like other B.C. sites, this location will provide clean needles and naloxone to drug users

This new overdose prevention site near downtown Kelowna on Ellis St. will provide a space for drug users, along with clean needles, needle disposal and naloxone, the antidote to opiod overdoses. (Jaimie Kehler)

We're now getting an inside look at one of B.C.'s new overdose prevention sites which aims to combat the province's growing drug overdose crisis.

Earlier this month, B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake passed a ministerial order allowing local health authorities to create overdose prevention sites and provide emergency services where necessary. 

Since that announcement, sites have opened in Kelowna, Kamloops, Surrey, Vancouver and Victoria. 

"So, we don't have direct lines of sight into the area where people are using but we would be able to hopefully recognize if somebody was having an imminent reaction," said John Yarschenko, a health service administrator for mental health and substance use with Interior Health.

He said while nurses and paramedics won't be supervising drug users directly, they will be nearby to administer the antidote naloxone in the event of an overdose.

The downtown Kelowna site opened on Friday. Here is a look inside:

The downtown Kelowna overdose prevention site is located inside the former Kelowna Health Centre at 1340 Ellis Street. (Jaimie Kehler)
These former office cubicles are now being used as private spaces for drug users. Three people can use drugs here at one time. (Jaimie Kehler)
Once inside the cubicles, drug users will find a desk along with harm reduction equipment and educational material about what to do in the event of an overdose. (Jaimie Kehler)
Drug users will be provided with clean needles, needle disposal kits, Band-Aids, lighters, Kleenex and other harm reduction supplies. (Jaimie Kehler)
Drug users will also get material on the health effects of drug use and what to do in the event of an overdose. (Jaimie Kehler)
A nurse or paramedic will sit at this nearby station equipped with more harm reduction supplies, including condoms and naloxone, an antidote that reverses the effects of an opiod overdose. (Jaimie Kehler)