For Immediate Release
September 10, 2019: Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health has completed an evaluation of Guelph’s Overdose Prevention Site (OPS). The broader community impact of the site was not covered in this evaluation but may be in future studies. Clients and staff members were asked about strengths and challenges, positive or negative outcomes for clients and if the OPS was effective at keeping people who use substances safe.
Key strengths included the welcoming and safe environment, accessibility to harm reduction supplies and education, on-site medical care and the ability to receive referrals to other services such as housing, health care and addictions treatment. Key challenges identified included space and privacy concerns, hours of operation, wait times, limited staff and some limitations on referrals.
“Guelph’s Overdose Prevention Site is one strategy in a multi-service approach to help people who use drugs in our community,” said Dr. Nicola Mercer, Medical Officer of Health and CEO of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health. “Public Health supports this work because it is saving lives. Public Health will continue to support all community partners who are front-line in the response to the ongoing opioid crisis.”
Of 45 overdoses at the site, 100 percent were reversed, and no deaths occurred. In the words of one client: “If I had used [drugs] somewhere else, I would be dead.”
“The OPS offers a spark of hope in the midst of a lot of darkness in this overdose crisis,” said Raechelle Devereaux, Executive Director of the Guelph Community Health Centre. “The OPS is helping some of the most vulnerable people in our community who otherwise might end up as an overdose fatality or a patient in the local ER. I welcome the evaluation’s results and staff at the Guelph Community Health Centre have already begun acting on them.”
The evaluation looked at operations from May 2018 through to March 2019 and involved interviewing 51 clients and 14 staff. The site has transitioned to the new provincial model of Consumption and Treatment Services which provides a safe and legal space to use drugs with on-site nursing and peer support, harm reduction supplies and referrals to other services. During the evaluation period, the service had 4,085 visits with 43 percent of those visits being from repeat clients.
Chuck Ferguson, Manager of Communications
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