At least 22 people died from suspected opioid overdoses in the Cowichan Valley alone between Jan. 1, 2016 and May 30, 2017 according to Island Health. Another 150 were treated in the emergency room.
Those 22 are included in the 265 suspected overdose deaths Island-wide during the same time period. It’s a huge jump when compared to past years and while it isn’t unique to the Valley, stakeholders have been working to address the issue.
“These tragic events highlight the need to respond to the current health crisis with services for preventing overdoses, increasing treatment, reducing harm, supporting those in need and saving lives,” said Cindy Lise of Our Cowichan Communities Health Network.
The Health Network is hosting an open house on Thursday, July 6 at the Duncan Fire Hall for people to learn more about the opioid crisis.
Our Cowichan Community Health Network members will be joined by BC Ambulance personnel, the RCMP, and staff from Island Health and the Canadian Mental Health Association as well as other community partners. They’ll talk about “the full continuum; prevention, harm reduction, overdose prevention, treatment and recovery,” Lise said. Discussion will address the current state of the crisis, the response, existing services, and proposed services.
There will also be time to ask questions at the event, which runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Cowichan has been struggling with public safety with regard to recklessly discarded needles in the past months and many, particularly parents of students at Alexander Elementary and Cowichan Secondary’s Quamichan campus and their supporters, have been calling for action.
“There are currently many agencies working together to address many of the crises in our community including the opioid crisis,” said Health Network co-chair Denise Williams. “We hope that people come with an open mind and questions.”