Overdose prevention site in Guelph logs 430 visits since opening

Since Guelph's overdose prevention site opened its doors two months ago, staff have seen over 430 people visit the site and have responded to five overdoses.

84% of drugs used at site in last 2 months have been opioids

Eighty-four per cent of the drugs used at Guelph's OPS have been opioids and staff have responded to five overdoses in the two months it's been open. (Guelph Community Health Centre/ Facebook)

Staff at Guelph's overdose prevention site (OPS) have seen over 430 people since it opened at Guelph's Community Health Centre (CHC) two months ago.

Raechelle Devereax, executive director of the Guelph CHC, said the site  is part of the solution in dealing with the current opioid crisis, and a way to reduce the high number of hospital stays as a result of opioid overdoses.

"Because we've hosted the needle exchange program at the Guelph CHC for several years, we were seeing folks who use drugs on site," she said, adding that staff at the centre also dealt with a number of overdoses.

Since opening, the site has responded to five overdoses.

"We realized there was a need in our community and also seeing the five overdose reversals happen here at the site, we're also realizing the opportunity to save lives." 

The OPS has two injection booths and a quiet space, where nurses and staff supervise and offer support to individuals.

Devereaux said that nurses and peer support workers monitor an individual's breathing and physical appearance when using. They watch for signs of low oxygen or signs that they are losing consciousness.

84 per cent of drugs used were opioids

Devereaux said 84 per cent of the drugs used at Guelph's OPS have been opioids.

 "So far we've seen growing number of visits week after week, and the fact that the majority are using opioids tells us this temporary site is addressing the needs of the people it was designed to help," Devereaux said.

Those accessing the site range from people experiencing homelessness, to those who have full time jobs, Devereaux said.

"They are coming because they know there is help available. They are coming to the site because they want to live," she said.

Individuals accessing the site also have the opportunity to connect with other support programs such as addiction services and other services offered at the centre. 

"Connections are also regularly made to other services and supports in the community," said Jan Klotz, client care supervisor and manager of the OPS.

"The OPS provides access to harm reduction services that are non judgmental and free from stigma, as well as the chance to be treated with compassion, dignity, and respect." 

The Guelph CHC offers information sessions about the OPS Friday mornings from 9:15 a.m to 9:45 a.m. to anyone in the community.