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Public Health releases evaluation of Guelph's overdose prevention site

'The OPS offers a spark of hope in the midst of a lot of darkness in this overdose crisis,' says the executive director of the Guelph Community Health Centre
20180704 Overdose Prevention Site KA 01
The using room of the Overdose Prevention Site in the Guelph Community Health Centre. In two months the site has had over 430 visits, 84 per cent of which were to use opioid-based drugs. Kenneth Armstrong/GuelphToday

Guelph's overdose prevention site has a number of strengths but also has some challenges, says an evaluation of the site by Public Health.

Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health conducted an evaluation of the site, located in the Guelph Community Health Centre, from May of 2018 to March of 29.

They interviewed 51 clients and 14 staff members as part of the evaluation. The broader community impact of the site was not part of it but could be part of future evaluations.

During the evaluation period, the service had 4,085 visits from 401 individuals.

Those interviewed were asked about strengths and challenges, positive or negative outcomes for clients and if the OPS was effective at keeping people who use substances safe, said a Public Health news release.

"Key strengths included the welcoming and safe environment, accessibility to harm reduction supplies and education, on-site medical care and the ability to receive referrals to other services such as housing, health care and addictions treatment. Key challenges identified included space and privacy concerns, hours of operation, wait times, limited staff and some limitations on referrals." 

Medical Officer of Health Dr. Nicola Mercer said the site is one strategy in a multi-service approach to help people who use drugs in our community.

“Public Health supports this work because it is saving lives. Public Health will continue to support all community partners who are front-line in the response to the ongoing opioid crisis.”

Of 45 overdoses at the site, 100 percent were reversed, and no deaths occurred.

“The OPS offers a spark of hope in the midst of a lot of darkness in this overdose crisis,” said Raechelle Devereaux, Executive Director of the Guelph Community Health Centre.

“The OPS is helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community who otherwise might end up as an overdose fatality or a patient in the local ER. I welcome the evaluation’s results and staff at the Guelph Community Health Centre have already begun acting on them.”