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’s Gospel Mission serves annual Christmas dinner

Between 700 to 800 meals were served Saturday to the community

Your weekend story highlights

Every Saturday, the Capital News will highlight stories from the week

The Paperboys visit Kelowna

Check out the Rotary Centre for the Arts Jan. 27

Let it snow in Kelowna

Snow is in the forecast for this week

Photos: Adventuring in Stuart Park

Have you seen Friday’s edition of the Capital News? Check out the photos featured

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Porter blanks Blades in Rockets’ road trip finale

Rookie netminder stops 40 shots in Kelowna’s last game before Christmas break

All aboard the Summerland Christmas Express

The first train of the Summerland Christmas Express schedule.

Meningococcal clinics open this Sunday

Interior Health is stepping up efforts to get young people vaccinated against Meningococcal.

Update: RCMP arrest domestic assault suspect west of Kamloops.

The RCMP Emergency Response Team made the arrest at around 4:30 p.m.

Owl found dead after eating rat poison leaves B.C. woman concerned

After finding the owl on her Surrey property, Christine Trozzo says the poison is a concern for kids

Change to CPP death benefit panned as insufficient to cover funeral costs

Funeral Services Association of Canada lobbied governments to raise the value to $3,580

#MeToo at work: Employers play a role in fixing culture of sexual harassment

B.C. workplaces are getting ahead of being the next MeToo debacle, calling on experts to train staff

Most Read