Hamilton votes to meet with hospitals about hosting a supervised injection site

Staff from Hamilton's Public Health department will be meeting with officials from local hospitals to about the possibility of setting up a permanent supervised injection site at one of their locations.

Province approved a temporary overdose prevention site for the city Tuesday

An injection kit is shown at a supervised injection facility in Vancouver. The City of Hamilton has voted to examine the possibility of placing an injection site at a local hospital. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Staff from Hamilton's Public Health department will be meeting with officials from local hospitals about the possibility of setting up a permanent supervised injection sites at one of their locations.

City council approved a motion by Ward 2 Councillor Jason Farr Wednesday, asking that the meetings be made a "priority" as agencies searching for a site have had trouble finding a landlord willing to host it.

While making his motion, Farr described public health officials and their counterparts are the city's hospitals as "partners in crisis."

Ward 2 councillor Jason Farr holds up a few of the needles he found during a recent trip to Jackie Washington Park. (Dan Taekema/CBC)

"Seventy-five deaths in less than a year in Hamilton, a tragic statistic that's 75 per cent above the provincial average is indeed a crisis," he added.

Mayor supports hospital site

Mayor Fred Eisenberger previously wrote in an email to councillors that "discussions" with hospital officials were ongoing before Farr's motion formalized the process.

"In my mind, the best locale for a safe injection site is in one of our hospitals," the mayor said, "or in a hospital-owned facility very near one of our inner city hospitals." 

The  opioid  crisis will only be solved through a partnership between all parties involved.- Dr.  Wes  Stephen, Hamilton Health Sciences 

Hamilton Health Sciences also issued a statement last week in response to questions about the possible partnership.

The response expressed support for collaborative efforts to combat overdoses, but did not directly deal with whether the corporation is willing to host a site.

"HHS is working with its partners to address the needs of very vulnerable members of our community," read the statement from Dr. Wes Stephen, Executive Vice President of  Clinical Operations and Chief Operating Officer.

"The opioid crisis will only be solved through a partnership between all parties involved."

Province approved temporary location

The move by council comes just a day after the province announced approval for a temporary overdose prevention site run by the Shelter Health Network through a partnership with Hamilton Urban Core CHC at the inner city health centre's 71 Rebecca St. location.

The facility will include an area for three people at a time to inject "pre-obtained" drugs under the watch of a medical professional.

The funding sets the new Hamilton location up for six months, with the possibility of an extension in the future.

Dr. Jill Wiwcharuk with the health network said she hopes the location will be up and running within a week or two. 

With files from Samatha Craggs and Adam Carter