Drug data to inform programs

All emergency rooms, ambulance services and outside agencies at Interior Health are collecting information on overdoses.

All emergency rooms, ambulance services and outside agencies at Interior Health  are collecting information on overdoses to help connect drug users to available services.

“We are looking at how we reach out to them, by gathering data about age groups, male or female, where they live, what kinds of drugs, where are the overdoses occurring, how much is fentanyl, and what can we do about those kinds of things,” said Chris Mazurkewich, president and CEO of IH during a recent visit to Williams Lake.

Interior Health is also trying to host community conversations with the public to share information with parents, students, at-risk drug users to make people aware of the safe guards in place and training people to use the take-home Naloxone antidote kits, said Rae Samson, IH  mental health and substance use manager.

“We are also exploring safe consumption sites,” Mazurkewich said. “There’s a whole process that has to take place first, but we’re open to different possibilities, depending on what the various communities, the data and drug users tell us.”

While drug overdoses are being seen predominantly in Kamloops and Kelowna, some overdoses are occurring in other places.

“That’s why we are trying to make sure we assess things correctly because our response in Kelowna and Kamloops could be different than our response in Williams Lake for instance,” Mazurkewich said.

Canada had the highest opioid prescription rate in the world so the colleges of physicians and surgeons have been working on changing the rules around prescriptions.