INSITE: SAVING LIVES IN VANCOUVER
Re: Injection Site Cuts Fatal Overdoses By 35, April 18.
I am a doctor at Vancouver’s safe injection site, Insite, and I would
like to address some misinformation about it. No one who works in
harm reduction thinks that it is a replacement for rehab or other
medical treatment. Harm reduction and treatment facilities work in
harmony to increase outreach to this vulnerable population and to
facilitate care. There is a role for both models of health-care delivery.
The injection site is a place for people to have a welcoming
interaction with the health-care system. Nurses patch wounds and give
vaccinations and the social workers help people find housing. For
some of our patients, this is their only place to access running
water, and only time that they are safe from sexual assault.
I work on the second floor, which is an in-patient medical detox.
Patients who use the site and are interested in recovery are admitted
for a 10-to 14 day stay in our unit under supervision of doctors and
nurses. After they finish their detox, patients can live in our
transition housing while they wait to move to a treatment centre.
I work in this field because I believe that addiction is an illness
that is both treatable and curable. If rehab is the cure for
addiction, why not ensure that people don’t die while they are
waiting for a treatment bed? If the federal government closes our
clinic, that will support the spread of HIV, increase hospital
admissions for endocarditis and condemn people to death.
Dr. Christy Sutherland, Vancouver
Pubdate: Thu, 21 Apr 2011
Source: National Post (Canada)