Last week, the Middlesex-London Board of Health unanimously voted to request renewal of the provincial approval for the temporary overdose prevention site at 186 King St. Since it opened its doors in February of this year, more than 1,500 people have used the service.
The provincial approval of the temporary overdose prevention site expires on 15 Aug. Please add your name to the petition to show your support for renewing this critical health service in our community.
As stated in the staff report to the MLHU board:
"MOHLTC funding and the temporary exemption for TOPS is set to expire on August 15, 2018. To date, the service has received over 4000 client visits (over 1500 unique clients), reversed several overdoses, and referred 91 clients to other services such as addictions treatment, mental health counselling, and housing."
More than 4,700 injections have occurred in a supervised setting rather than in alleys, parks and other public places. Six overdoses have been reversed.
Not renewing the temporary overdose prevention site, while we are in the middle of a public health emergency, would be a terrible mistake that would harm some of the most vulnerable people living in London. This should not be a partisan issue. Politics should not get in the way of public health.
As our public health unit has reported, we have "multiple, overlapping drug-related crises" in our city. You can learn more about these crises here: https://www.healthunit.com/opioids-middlesex-london
Supervised consumption services have been shown to reduce overdose deaths and reduce the spread of infectious diseases. The health unit states that the main goals of a supervised consumption service are:
- To reduce the spread of infectious diseases (HIV and hepatitis C);
- To reduce the number of drug overdose deaths;
- To bring people who inject drugs into contact with other health and social and treatment services; and,
- To reduce issues in the community such as drug use in public places, and discarded needles.
You can learn more about supervised consumption services here: https://www.healthunit.com/opioids-faqs
Supervised consumption services are a proven, effective way of keeping people alive and reducing the harms from injection drug use.
If you support the renewal of the temporary overdose prevention site at 186 King St, please add your name to this petition. I will send it to Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Christine Elliott and all four local London MPPs: Teresa Armstrong, Terence Kernaghan, Peggy Sattler and Jeff Yurek.
Background from the MLHU staff report
"The Middlesex-London Health Unit (MLHU) and the Regional HIV/AIDS Connection (RHAC) submitted the first application for the Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS) on January 12, 2018. On January 19, in response to this application, the Ontario government approved one-time funding in the amount of $130,700 to establish Ontario’s first sanctioned TOPS. The TOPS site opened on February 12, 2018, and funding is approved until August 15, 2018.
"The TOPS has provided necessary health services to clients in a manner that is both accessible and free from stigma. This has helped reduce the number of overdose deaths and infectious diseases impacting some of Ontario’s most vulnerable and marginalized populations. There have been 4,791 supervised injections at the TOPS between February 12 and June 30, 2018. The site averages 55 visits per weekday and 30 visits per day on weekends, with a peak of 78 client visits in one day. Hydromorphone has been the most common drug reported to have been used at TOPS, followed by crystal methamphetamine, “unspecified opioid,” “other,” fentanyl, and heroin. There have been six overdoses during this time, of which five were treated with oxygen alone, while one client required administration of naloxone. There have been no overdose deaths in or around the site.
"The aftercare room is where in-kind community organizations provide client support and links to services. This model has been effective in providing referrals to these services. This has included: 31 referrals to Addiction Services Thames Valley; 4 for methadone treatment; 20 to the London CAReS Housing Team; 10 to the Centre of Hope (Housing Stability or Shelter); 2 to the Unity Project shelter; 10 to the London InterCommunity Health Centre; 4 to the Hepatitis C Team; 3 to the MLHU Sexual Health Clinic; 3 to the RHAC HIV Team; and 7 for care in hospitals."
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Here is a golden opportunity to make good on that commitment.