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Pitches sought for Sudbury supervised drug consumption site

Request for expressions of interest in project goes up on Public Health Sudbury website
supervised injection

Public Health Sudbury and Districts (PHSD) has issued a formal request for expressions of interest for a supervised consumption service in the city.

Sudbury's Community Drug Strategy (CDS) describes it as a "controlled space where people can consume drugs under supervision in a clean and safe environment."

Details were revealed on the PHSD website purchasing page. The purchasing outline said the request was being made on behalf of Reseau ACCESS Network, with the support of the health unit and the community drug strategy. 

It said the consumption site would need approximately 1,500 to 2,000 square feet. The zoning suggestion was listed as Office, Medical. The request also suggested the location should be located in the downtown core, and not within 200 metres of a child care centre, a park or a school.

The request also revealed there must be accessible washrooms for staff and clients, and have three rooms — service intake room, consumption room and post-consumption room. There was also the suggestion that the consumption room should have space for a hand and foot washing station.

This all follows the release earlier this year of the Supervised Consumption Services Needs Assessment and Feasibility Study, jointly produced by Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe and Greater Sudbury Police Chief Paul Pedersen. 

The 78-page report said the health harm to local drug users from the practise of injecting drugs was significant and getting worse.

The report revealed that Sudbury ranked 12th in the province for confirmed opioid-related deaths and tenth for hospitalizations, based on rates per 1,000 population. The report also revealed the frequency of emergency medical service (EMS) calls for suspected opioid overdoses had more than doubled in 2019 compared with 2018. 

The request for interest revealed that Sudbury's Drug Strategy team is currently engaged in a process of submitting applications for Federal exemption and Provincial funding to implement Supervised Consumption and Treatment Services (SCS) in order to support the safe use of substances and provide access to treatment for people who use drugs. 

"SCS are known to have many benefits, including a reduction in drug overdose related deaths and creating links to supportive treatment and care. This service will provide sterile supplies and a clean and safe environment where people can consume their own drugs under supervision by trained staff, including health care professionals,” said the report. 

The document also made it clear that at no time will the health unit or drug strategy team be supplying the drugs of substances that users may choose to inject. 

Those who are interested in providing such a site have until 3 p.m. on Nov. 10, 2020 to submit their expression of interest.

About the Author: Len Gillis, local journalism initiative reporter

Len Gillis is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter at covering health care in northeastern Ontario and the COVID-19 pandemic.
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