Fentanyl pills

Overdose-fighting mobile units ready to roll

Interior Health’s mobile clinics should be on the street within a few weeks says city councillor

A Kelowna city councillor says Interior Health is just about ready to roll with its mobile unit in Kelowna aimed at helping fight the opioid and fentanyl overdose crisis.

Coun. Luke Stack told Kelowna council Monday he participated in a meeting with a number of representatives of local groups, agencies and other stakeholders and was told Interior Health has bought the motorhome it plans to use here and is currently having it converted into a mobile clinic.

He said IH officials said they plan to have it on the road within a few weeks.

What is not clear is the current status of the approval IH is seeking to make the mobile unit as a safe injection site, an approval required from Health Canada.

Stack said the meeting he attended was told that the approval is still being worked on.

Interior Health announced in January that it planned to ask Health Canada for the approval and create mobile units in both Kelowna and Kamloops. They are believed to be the first mobile safe injection site in North America. With or without the safe injection approval,the mobile units would by used said IH officials at the time. But without the approval, drug users would not be allowed to inject on board the motorhomes.

Stack said the motorhomes are being made to look as “inconspicuous as possible” because IH is sensitive to the areas in which they will be parked in the two cities.

“But (Interior Health) is also also trying to save lives,” said Stack.

He said while the exact hours and locations of the mobile units have yet to be determined, the IH officials at the meeting talked about them operating from noon to midnight in Kelowna areas of Rutland and downtown. At least two medical staff will be on board and, possibly, additional health care workers at certain times of the day and night.

When the units were announced, IH officials said they would like to see councillors also on board with nurses.

Even if Health Canada does not approved the supervised injections on board, IH has said it still plans proceed with the mobile units,which will replace the two permanent, building-based “safe consumption” sites it originally planned for Kelowna.

While the downtown site is located in the former IH health unit building on Ellis Street, a plan to set up the other one in Rutland ran into a roadblock when the tenants of that building opposed its location there and threatened to move out if the landlord let the site open there.

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