The Peterborough Opioid Center will begin offering services on Monday


With construction and renovations to the Simcoe Street Opioid Response Center now complete, on-site services will begin on Monday.

Community organizations including PARN — Your AIDS Resource Network, MSORT (the Mobile Opioid Support Team) and FourCAST will begin offering their harm reduction plans and supplies to community members through the hub located in the former Greyhound bus terminal at Aylmer and Simcoe streets.

The location is also the proposed site for the city’s Safe Drug Use and Treatment (STC) site, which is still under review by the provincial government and awaiting funding approval.

The hub space has been configured so that once approval is received, no further renovations are required to accommodate the drug use and treatment site safely, said Donna Rogers, executive director of FourCAST (the Four County Addiction Services Team), a local addiction treatment provider.

“The space is set up in the event the CTS is approved, we could move in and set it up without having to do any major renovations,” Rogers said.

The Opioid Response Center was still moving forward with or without CTS approval.

“Our plan was to include our extended community withdrawal management team, at this point, and if the CTS was approved, we would move some of these programs offsite and only have satellites for the withdrawal management team. community,” she said.

The programs will help people who are not only looking for help, but also those who need the help of nurses and counsellors, as well as access to treatment services.

“What we’re seeing recently in terms of drug poisonings, the increase in outdoor poisonings, overdose deaths, those are things from an intervention perspective, we need to come up with a strategy that stops people from die,” she said.

Other services will help people find a solution that works best for them.

“There are options to prevent people from dying from contaminated drug supplies, and that’s the safe supply program,” Rogers said.

“We have to get to that level to be able to help people, people can’t access treatment and therapy while they’re still in this contaminated supply model.”

As anticipation grows with the CTS’s approval, people can still receive help through any number of organizations associated with the Opioid Response Center.

People will have access to harm reduction supplies, awareness activities, health care and other services they may need, said Dylan DeMarsh, prevention education coordinator at PARN .

“It’s a place where someone can pick up and access harm reduction supplies, talk to someone, they’ve recently had drug poisoning, or they know someone who has, and he can get in touch with workers there,” he said.

DeMarsh added that this will lead to meaningful interactions and relationship building with members of the community who use substances and may seek access to services.

“When people come to us and have these meaningful interactions with people, that’s when we can do education about what’s happening at the street level,” he said, “like the different drugs in the community, tips and pointers to staying safe when using and to avoiding transmission of viruses and the potential for drug poisonings.

It couldn’t come at a more critical time in the community, said Evan Brockest, health promoter at Peterborough Public Health.

“If we look at the data, we know that the overdose crisis in our region has been building for many years, but the last two years truly represent the worst on record,” he said.

Over the past two years, 87 people have died of suspected drug poisonings in the community, accounting for nearly a third of deaths attributed to opioids since 2005, when tracking began.

“Our community has experienced an unprecedented overdose of paramedic calls, emergency room visits and deaths,” Brockest said.

Peterborough Public Health’s role will be to support community organizations and provide people with naloxone through the Opioid Response Centre.

“When it comes to an overdose situation, time is running out,” Brockest said.

“The more naloxone we get in the community the better, because obviously it’s a pretty essential lifesaving tool.”

Brockest pointed out that the connection to the services offered is the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to substance use and addiction.

“When we think of substance use and addiction, we’re talking about a very stigmatized activity, which people often have to use in the shadows,” he said.

“There is an opportunity to provide literally life-saving services, well supported by evidence and there is a basis here to keep moving forward.”

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