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Letter: We need to work together for a safer community for everyone

Letters to the editor
By Letters to the editor
June 13th, 2023

To the Editor:

Interior Health’s job is to provide lifesaving services for everyone in our communities. Health and wellbeing for all means everyone: people injured in car crashes; people who have heart attacks; people with mental health challenges; and people who are living with addiction.

We know that shame and fear can drive people to hide addictions challenges, leaving them at great risk due to a highly toxic, unpredictable drug supply. One person a day is dying in the Interior Health region. One person a month has died in Nelson in the first four months of this year from unregulated drugs. These are preventable deaths and should be devastating to all of us.

While our purpose-built care centres and hospitals provide high quality services to most people in the area, certain services require greater outreach to populations who, for various reasons, may not be able to access traditional services. This is where services like the Friendship Clubhouse and Overdose Prevention Sites become models that make health services more accessible to people who need it.

In our efforts to start new life-saving health services and support individuals with complex mental health and substance use challenges in Nelson, we understand that we did not address community concerns with the Clubhouse property prior to expanding additional services. Moving forward, we are committed to more frequent and two-way communication about health services – existing and planned.

To underscore our commitment, we have relocated all mental health services from the Clubhouse to alternate existing Interior Health locations. This is in addition to the decision made two weeks ago to temporarily pause plans to offer inhalation Overdose Prevention Services. While no services are being offered at the Clubhouse site, 24/7 security is now in place and, in the coming weeks, a fence will go up to prevent inappropriate use of the property. We are actively engaged with the Nelson Police Department and with our municipal partners to explore options to better secure the property and on health services in Nelson.

These issues are complex and require government agencies and community partners to work closely together to find solutions. Interior Health will focus on our mandate, which is to deliver health services to everyone in our community, while working with partners who are focused on addressing criminality, housing, and community supports for vulnerable populations.

There is no single public body or agency that can alone address the challenges facing Nelson and other communities across North America.

Nelson is a beautiful community in a spectacular part of the province. Our focus on being a good neighbour while supporting those in need will continue. We are committed to doing our part and working with partners help Nelson thrive.

Community Update from Interior Health Authority

Categories: HealthLettersOp/Ed


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