The Vancouver Island Health Authority has chosen two community-based service providers to lead harm reduction services at the Pandora Wellness Centre, the Island’s first approved public supervised consumption site.
In December, the regional health provider issued requests for proposals to staff the centre at 941 Pandora Ave. At the time, Dr. Richard Stanwick, VIHA chief medical officer, said those with lived experience and familiarity working in harm reduction would be ideal candidates.
SOLID Outreach Society and the Lookout Housing and Health Society have secured the contracts and will soon begin to hire and train staff, who will work alongside clinical and health care professionals including nurses and paramedics.
Suzanne Germain, strategic advisor with Island Health said VIHA is “excited to work in partnership with these community agencies.”
“This is an important, high profile service,” she said. “And the front line community agencies know best how to work with a marginalized, vulnerable population.”
While the main service will be harm reduction and supervised consumption, Germain said other integrated services like education and health promotion will also be part of the centre, as well as referrals, engagement and creating connections for treatment plans.
“The City of Victoria has been involved and been supportive of this process, as has VicPD,” she added.
Since 2003, SOLID – a peer-run organization of people who use drugs – has worked to distribute safe drug supplies, recover used supplies and conduct naloxone training.
Founded in 1971, Lookout Housing and Health Society provides low barrier housing and support services through community outreach on the Lower Mainland. Along with programming designed to develop work skills, the society developed and currently operates supervised consumption services in Surrey and on the Downtown Eastside in Vancouver.
Renovations at the Pandora Wellness Centre continue on time and on budget, scheduled for completion in late April. Following a final inspection from Health Canada, the 10-booth permanent supervised consumption service will open shortly thereafter.