Fentanyl crisis: One in 20 drug users on a path to death

Rising number of deaths frustrating Interior Health officials

“Tragic. Outrageous. Phenomenally sad.”

Those are the words that Dr. Trevor Corneil used to describe the continually rising number of overdose deaths in Kelowna.

According to the most recent statistics from the BC Coroner’s office, the total number of fatalities rose to 32 in April. That means this city is well on a path to reaching over 100 deaths by the end of the year, which is more than double the number of deaths in 2016.

And by Corneil’s estimates, that means one of every 20 illicit drug users in Kelowna is on a path toward death.

“It really speaks to the stigma that surrounds drug use … we (at Interior Health) have really gone out of our way to do what we can in this emergency,” he said.

Despite all those efforts, they’re not seeing the results that would accompany a push to end lung disease or something similar.

“We are not seeing the reaction … we need the public to understand that people who use drugs are people and one-in-20 (drug users) dying in Kelowna is not acceptable.”

Thus far, the effort to slow the overdose death toll has included rolling out mobile OD prevention units, making take-home naloxone kits accessible and providing more substance use treatment for those residents at highest risk of an OD event.

Going forward, however, Corneil said that the most needed expenditure will be in the area of recovery treatment.

The question that lingers, however, is how government funding will roll out.

“As a health authority we are moving ahead anyway on this file,” the said. “This is a crisis. This is an emergency. We will spend what we are able to spend.”

The spending “envelope” that may exist in nine months, however, may look different depending on the government in power.

“(All three parties) have made it clear that mental health and substance use are areas they want to focus on … but the question I have is ‘how much?’” said Corneil.

“I need to see at the end of the day how much we as a society, are willing to invest in treatment. That’s our biggest gap now.

Every health authority needs more base funding to support those one in 200 persons who use.”

Just Posted

Kelowna engineering company celebrates 15 years

CTQ has a few ongoing projects this year, including the KGH JoAnna’s House

Editorial: Unplug during Earth Hour, or at any time

Earth Hour is today (Saturday, March 24) from 8:30-9:30 p.m.

Crimes unresolved in the Central Okanagan

RCMP are searching for suspects in Kelowna, West Kelowna and Lake Country

54.40 revisits Kelowna

The rockers will highlight old songs with a new twist March 31

Repairs underway to West Kelowna road after flood damage

A portion of Lower Glenrosa Road will be closed until at least Monday says the city

What’s happening

Find out which events are taking place in the Okanagan and Shuswap this weekend

Snowfall warning for Highway 3

Kelowna - A snowfall warning is in effect from Paulson Summit to Kootenay Pass

Canucks sing the Blues as they fall to St. Louis 4-1

Berglund nets two, including the game-winner, to lift St. Louis over Vancouver

Calving season brings hope for Cariboo ranchers

Still a lot of work ahead to recover from the wildfires

Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond wins figure skating world title

The 22-year-old fwon the women’s singles crown with her Black Swan routine

B.C. pooches celebrate National Puppy Day

Check out some of the submissions from around B.C. for National Puppy Day 2018

Changing philosophies for seniors’ care

Aging baby boomers impacting continuum of care

Photos: Salmon Arm celebrates Paralympic champion Natalie Wilkie

Hometown hero welcomed home with parade, recognition ceremony at city hall

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Most Read