COMMUNITY NEED - Safe Harbour Society will transition more beds for medical detox purposes. Express file photo

Medical detox beds coming to Red Deer soon

Safe Harbour Society hopes transition will better meet the need

Medical detox beds are coming to Red Deer’s Safe Harbour Society.

The agency will be turning their already-existing beds into medical detox beds. The transition of beds was initially announced in March 2016, but the agency is hoping to see the change by the end of the year.

“For sure there’s a need. I think it’s obvious to everyone about the increased injection (of drugs),” said Kath Hoffman, executive director of Safe Harbour Society.

She said it seems to be younger people that they’re seeing who are injecting more.

“For us at Safe Harbour, our stats show us that they’re injecting meth more than they are opioids, which is interesting. We have a lot of crystal meth use that the staff are reporting,” she said.

Hoffman said their detox is usually full regardless.

“The difference this money that Alberta Health Services (AHS) is giving us is that we can have nurses and doctors onsite on Safe Harbour.”

She wanted to clarify that this won’t be something separate than their current services.

“This is medical detox in our current facility. We’re not expanding beds. We’re turning the beds we have into medically supported beds.”

This means they will have an RN on shift 24/7 and a doctor dropping by once a day.

Hoffman said dollar figures can’t be announced just yet, but that their will be announcement coming from AHS at some point.

Currently, Safe Harbour is in the process of getting ready for the change.

“Very soon we’ll be operating, and the nurses have been interviewed. I think we’re just in the process of hiring the casual staff. There’s training for them, there’s training for our staff, so this collaboration’s going to be really neat.

“Now we’ve got nurses right there, so for our staff for the first time in 10 years, they’re going to be able to case manage the people in this program, which means they’re going to be able to have the time to sit with those guys in detox and really make sure that whatever next steps those people want are going to be hopefully in place for them.”

She said the ripple effect of this is big, reducing the stress in the community not just for that user, but for the family and the broader community.

“Then you take it a step further and you would have gone to emergency where they would have taken care of your initial symptoms and then have to discharge you because they need that bed,” she said, adding that doctors can now know they are discharging patients to a place that has medical supports instead of going back to the street.

Hoffman said having the medical detox beds frees up that bed in the hospital, so somebody else can use it quicker.

“It pays off to the community in a whole bunch of ways. People aren’t thinking about that.”

Safe Harbour will be re-opening its winter warming centre Nov. 1st.

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