No one is immune to opioids, and no one organization working alone can turn the tide. Red Deer continues to have a high rate of opioid-related overdoses, many resulting in death.
Alberta Health Services (AHS) recognizes that addressing complex social issues like opioid addiction requires a community approach, and that is why we continue to work with our community partners to provide education, awareness and supports.
Together, AHS, the provincial government, the City of Red Deer, Turning Point and Safe Harbour Society are working to help establish an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) while partners continue to move toward a more permanent Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) site in Red Deer.
Our goal is to ensure we can reduce deaths and provide supports and other services that may provide an opportunity for someone to seek the help and support they need when dealing with substance use challenges.
A working group represented by Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, Turning Point, Safe Harbour Society and City of Red Deer administration have agreed to implement an Overdose Prevention Site (OPS) as a temporary measure while work continues to establish a Supervised Consumption Services (SCS) site in Red Deer.
Overdose Prevention Sites
Overdose Prevention Sites are temporary health services designated for the purposes of observing people while they are using previously obtained drugs and monitoring for adverse events, primarily overdose. These are typically thought of as low-barrier Supervised Consumption Services (SCS), which can be implemented in a timely manner.
Supervised Consumption Services
Supervised consumption services are permanent, medically-supervised, hygienic spaces designated primarily for the purposes of monitoring consumption of previously obtained drugs and responding in the case of an adverse events, such as an overdose. These services also provide access to additional health and social supports for those who use substances.
OPS vs. SCS
OPS vs. SCS: In Alberta, the Health Minister has been given the ability to extend a provincial exemption to operators in Alberta to allow for timely Overdose Prevention Sites in areas where an urgent public health need exists. These services are designated as temporary and able to be implemented in an expedited manner. The federal process required for approving Supervised Consumption Services is much more robust and designed for long-term service provision.
On August 31, 2018, Health Minister Sarah Hoffman asked the working group of partners to target having the temporary facility operating within a month.
The OPS will be operated by Turning Point, a non-profit harm reduction agency that has worked in Red Deer for over 30 years. It will be located on Safe Harbour Society’s property.