Throughout most of 2017 there wasn’t much let up in the overdose crisis that has been plaguing Kelowna and many regions across North America as the city was consistently one of the places in B.C. that suffered a high number of overdose deaths.
However in September, with overdose deaths due to fentanyl continuing to mount, the city saw only three OD deaths, drastically down from previous months.
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While no one was saying why that was, Interior Health’s new board chair Doug Cochrane as well as others in the medical field continued to push a message of harm reduction.
“We’re not keeping people safe enough and that’s why the (overdose fatality) numbers keep increasing so how to change that is something we will continue to work on concurrently with what is being done elsewhere across the province and across the country,” said Cochrane. “What we need to do is keep people safe, work with them when they are ready for a change and support them when they are trying to address their drug dependency.”
Early in 2017, Interior Health was approved to operate a mobile safe injection site, one of the first ones in North America, as Kelowna and Kamloops were each set up with the site. It allowed users to safely use drugs at a site that included nearby Naloxone kits, designed to stave off an overdose.
With the number of OD calls seemingly never-ending, the Kelowna Fire Department, whose members are often the first on the scene, decided to have its members switch halls more quickly than normal, allowing members to avoid the mental strain of continuing to treat overdose victims.
As of Dec. 1, more than 1,200 people had died from illicit drug overdoses in B.C. this year.
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