Okanagan effort to provide pop-up overdose prevention sites ongoing

A citizen-driven effort to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths in Rutland is not going unnoticed by the health officials ...

A citizen-driven effort to reduce the number of drug overdose deaths in Rutland is not going unnoticed by the health officials as they continue to look for a permanent site.

“Interior Health was not involved in the establishment of the “pop up” overdose prevention site, but we appreciate and share the concern the organizers have about overdose deaths and the need for overdose prevention services in the Rutland area,” said   Dr. Silvina Mema, Medical Health Officer.

“We continue to look for a location for an IH overdose prevention site in the Rutland area, to complement the site downtown. In the meantime, we will be working with Living Positive Resource Centre to provide enhanced harm reduction services in the Rutland area.”

Mema added that while the health authority supports community driven initiatives, they will be following up with organizers in the days ahead to ensure they  are delivered appropriately and safely.

The pop-up site, which was set up in Roxby Park earlier this week, is just the first of more sites to come, said Norah Bowman, the driving force behind the initiative.

Nobody used the service provided likely, Bowman said,  because it was irregular and lacking privacy.

That doesn’t mean the service wasn’t welcomed.

“(There has been) only positive responses but we need volunteers ASAP —  volunteers who are informed about or at least supportive of rights of drug users, who are willing to be trained in Naloxone, and who can stand in the cold for  three to four hours,” said Bowman.

“Having a car and some physical strength for putting up and taking down a tent are also very helpful.”

Bowman can be reached through Facebook.

Once the health authority finds an indoor location for an overdose prevention site in Rutland there will be no need for a pop-up site, which may make concerned residents more comfortable.

There is downtown overdose prevention site at the former Kelowna Health Centre (1340 Ellis St.) which is open Tuesday to Saturday noon to 7 p.m.

To find out more about harm reduction, or to train to administer Naloxone please contact Living Positive on 168 Asher Road, 778-753-5830.