Advertisement

OPH watching overdose trends after 2 supervised injection sites close

The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre was Ottawa's first supervised injection site. On Friday, it closed indefinitely amid reports of staff feeling unwell. (CBC - image credit)
The Sandy Hill Community Health Centre was Ottawa's first supervised injection site. On Friday, it closed indefinitely amid reports of staff feeling unwell. (CBC - image credit)

Ottawa Public Health (OPH) says it is working with community partners to track and mitigate any risks arising from the temporary closure of two supervised injection sites.

Last Friday, both the Sandy Hill and Somerset West community health centres paused service indefinitely at their supervised consumption sites amid reports of "staff feeling unwell."

Staff at both sites said harmful fumes were emitted when clients heated drugs for inhalation.

In a memo sent to city council on Monday, Ottawa's Medical Officer of Health Vera Etches said OPH has initiated extra actions to compensate for the temporary closures.

The first priority is to "conduct enhanced surveillance of overdose and related trends for as long as there is reduced access to supervised consumption services," the memo said.

That includes consulting with community members and businesses to "better understand what changes they are seeing on the ground," the memo added.

An inside view of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's safe consumption site.
An inside view of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's safe consumption site.

An inside view of the Sandy Hill Community Health Centre's safe consumption site. (Submitted by Rob Boyd)

Furthermore, OPH is working with Ontario's Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Health and Public Health Ontario to support the two closed sites and is "promoting" collecting samples of substances for lab testing.

Finally, the memo said OPH is working with multiple community partners including police, hospitals and paramedics to avoid potentially higher rates of fatal and non-fatal overdoses.

Etches said OPH continues to advise the public to avoid smoking drugs alone and indoors. OPH will continue to provide the city council with updates as new information becomes available, the memo concludes.