OTTAWA — Health Canada has given the green light to the capital’s first 24-hour supervised injection site, located in a trailer in the Shepherds of Good Hope’s parking lot.
The site was cleared to open as of today; the Shepherds of Good Hope and Ottawa Inner City Health had initially hoped to offer supervised injection services beginning yesterday.
The site is currently located in a trailer, but there are plans to eventually have a permanent space inside the shelter.
“It’s just that the nature of this (opioid) crisis has been so severe that we couldn’t take the time that we would need to do the renovations,” explained Caroline Cox, the Shepherds of Good Hope’s manager of transitional shelter services. “We estimate that’ll take a couple of months, over the winter.”
The opioid crisis has seen rising numbers of fatal overdoses, across the country, for well over than a year but the crisis really hit home for the Shepherds of Good Hope in February, when two clients died.
“We were seeing more overdoses — maybe four or five a month — through June and July, then in August it really reached a tipping point, with 40 overdoses in that month and 75 in September,” Cox told 1310 NEWS.
The site is a joint project between the Shepherds of Good Hope and Ottawa Inner City Health. While they may use some volunteers, paid staff — like registered practical nurses and peer support workers — will monitor users after they inject at one of eight stations in the trailer.
This site plans to operate 24 hours a day — the first one in Ottawa to do so.