Work underway on temporary overdose prevention site in Red Deer

Red Deer has the highest rate of fentanyl overdose right now in the province

Work is currently underway to get a temporary overdose prevention site up and running in the parking lot outside of Safe Harbour.

The site will be operated by Turning Point, the local harm reduction agency that is working to establish a permanent supervised consumption service in Red Deer.

According to the Alberta Opioid Response Surveillance Report 2018 Q2, 355 people died from an apparent accidental opioid overdose in 2018 and on average, two individuals die every day in Alberta as a result of an apparent accidental opioid overdose.

Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman said this is something she knows the steering group in Red Deer has been discussing the need for a site for a number of months. That group includes representation from Safe Harbour, Turning Point, the City of Red Deer and Alberta Health Services, to name a few.

“It became very clear when the most recent overdose data came out. Red Deer has the highest rate of fentanyl overdose right now in the province and that is heartbreaking. When you think about those 24 people who have died in Red Deer so far this year from suspected fentanyl overdose you can’t help but think about all the families and community members who are grieving,” said Hoffman.

She added that she’s spoken with the steering group and they’ve reached consensus on Safe Harbour being a location for an overdose prevention site.

“That’s more of a fast, short-term solution, but the steering group will continue to work on coming up with long-term solutions as well.”

In other communities, Hoffman said they’ve been able to open up these temporary sites in less than a month.

She said they are working to ensure the plan is finalized and that the resources are there to help with overdose prevention as quickly as possible and they are hoping to open it this month.

“Typically they are approved for a year and my goal is that the community through the steering group comes up with what they think is the long-term appropriate location and solution moving forward quickly. My goal would be so that this time next year there’s a permanent location and site with the right resources to help save lives in an ongoing way.”

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