FRASER Health announced on Tuesday that it will open the first of two supervised consumption sites in Surrey this week with the second one opening next week. The sites will help reverse overdoses and connect people to treatment services in an area that has seen one of the highest overdose rates throughout the public health emergency.
“The opening of supervised consumption sites in Surrey is a great example of hard work and collaboration between many community partners who have dedicated countless hours to bringing these services to fruition,” said Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall. “The overdose crisis has claimed many sons, daughters, partners, and friends, and supervised consumption services will help reduce the number of people in our community dying due to overdose while providing opportunities to connect people with treatment.”
Operated in partnership with the Lookout Emergency Aid Society, SafePoint on 135A Street will open this Thursday. SafePoint will provide an area for people to inject substances under supervision, and Fraser Health is also seeking Health Canada approval to provide supervised consumption of oral and intra-nasal substances – a first in Canada. SafePoint is located adjacent to Health Solutions (the SHOP Clinic) and the Front Room Drop-in Centre.
A second Surrey site, located at Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre, is scheduled to open next week.
“We know these areas of Surrey have been particularly impacted by the public health emergency, which is why we are implementing supervised consumption services as part of our regional overdose strategy,” said Fraser Health Chief Medical Health Officer Dr. Victoria Lee. “Because these services are integrated with existing health services, we will also have opportunities to support people in beginning treatment when they are ready to address their addiction.”
At SafePoint, supervised consumption services will be provided daily from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. A data analysis indicated that these hours of operation are the times when people who use substances are most likely to overdose in this area. Quibble Creek will provide supervised consumption services exclusively to clients of the centre between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m., seven days a week.
In addition to offering supervised consumption services, SafePoint and Quibble Creek Sobering and Assessment Centre staff will seek to connect people who use substances with health care and community services. Both sites will continue to provide connections to substance use treatment, including medications to treat opioid addiction (Suboxone and methadone). Since services were enhanced at these locations in January, more than 300 people have started treatment.
“The opening of supervised consumption services at SafePoint is a significant milestone for the 135A Street community, and I know these services will help make a difference to the people who use substances here,” said Shayne Williams, Executive Director for Lookout Emergency Aid Society. “Our staff will play an important role in not only reversing potentially fatal overdoses, but in connecting people with health care and other supports that could lead to positive life changes.”
Since December, Fraser Health has engaged in extensive consultation with key stakeholders as part of its application to Health Canada. The process included one-on-one meetings with community partners, two public information sessions, a web-based survey, and interviews with people who use drugs.
“Supervised consumption services in Surrey will play an important role in preventing fatal overdoses from occurring, while supporting people who are ready to begin their road to recovery with connections to treatment services,” said Surrey Mayor Linda Hepner.
Fraser Health’s new supervised consumption services support the work of the Joint Task Force on Overdose Response established in 2016. As part of the wide range of actions taken, partners across the health system continue to expand access to life-saving naloxone, opioid addiction treatments such as Suboxone and overdose prevention sites, work with Health Canada on approvals to open additional supervised consumption sites and improve the system of substance use services.