LOADING...

Category "B.C. Coroners Service"

23Aug

Daphne Bramham: B.C. addictions minister targets province’s ‘wild, wild West’ recovery houses

by admin

B.C. Addictions Minister Judy Darcy has no illusions about the current state of British Columbia’s recovery houses and the risk that the bad ones pose to anyone seeking safe, quality care.

Nor is she alone when she calls it “the wild, wild West.”

Anyone able to build a website and rent a house can operate a so-called recovery house. Like a game of whack-a-mole, even when inspectors try to shut down the worst ones, they spring up somewhere else.

That said, the regulations they’re supposed to enforce are so vaguely worded that it’s easier for bylaw inspectors to shut places down for garbage infractions than for failure to provide the most basic of services like food and a clean bed to people desperate for help.

Even the most deplorable ones have never been taken to court by the province, let alone fined or convicted which makes the penalties of up to $10,000 moot.

It’s taken two years, but this week Darcy — along with Health Minister Adrian Dix and Social Development Minister Shane Simpson — took the first steps toward bringing some order to the chaos and overturning years of neglect.

In two separate announcements, what they’re offering is both the stick of tighter regulations and enforcement as well as the carrot of more money for operations and training staff.

The carrots announced Friday include $4,000 grants available immediately to registered and licensed recovery home operators to offset the costs of training for staff before tougher regulations come into force on Dec. 1.

On Oct. 1, the per-diem rate paid for the treatment of people on social assistance will be raised after more than a decade without an increase. Recovery houses on the provincial registry will get a 17-per-cent increase to $35.90, while recovery houses licensed by the regional health authorities will jump to $45 from $40.

The sticks are new regulations that for the first time require things like qualified staff, which common sense should have dictated years ago as essential. Recovery houses will have to provide detailed information about what programs and services they offer. Again, this seems a no-brainer, as does requiring operators to develop personal service plans for each resident and support them as they transition out of residential care.

As for enforcement, the “incremental, remedial approach” to complaints has been scrapped and replaced with the power to take immediate action rather than waiting for a month and giving written notice to the operators.

Darcy is also among the first to admit that much, much more needs to be done to rein in bad operators whose purported treatment houses are flophouses and to provide addicts and their families with the resources they need to discern the good from the bad.

More than most, the minister knows the toll that poor funding and lack of regulation is taking both on addicts who seek help and on their loved ones. She’s haunted by meetings she’s had with the loved ones of those who have died in care and those who couldn’t get the services they needed.

“It’s the most difficult thing that I have to do and, of course, it moves me to my core,” she said in an interview following the announcement. “People say, ‘Do you ever get used to it?’ Of course I don’t. If you ever get used to it, you’re doing the wrong job.

“But I try and take that to drive me and to drive our government to do more and to move quickly and act on all fronts and having said that, there’s a lot to do. There’s really, really a lot to do.”

Among those she’s met are the two mothers of men who died within days of each other in December under deplorable conditions in two provincially registered recovery houses run by Step By Step.


B.C. Minister of Mental Health and Addictions Judy Darcy shares a laugh with Scott Kolodychuk, operations manager of Surrey’s Trilogy House One recovery home where Friday’s news conference was held.

Mike Bell /

PNG

It was four to six hours before 22-year-old Zach Plett’s body was found after he overdosed and died. On Christmas Eve, a 35-year-old man died at a different Step by Step house. It was two days before his body was found by other residents.

Two years before those men died, the provincial registrar had received dozens of complaints and issued dozens of non-compliances orders. Both houses remained on the registry until this summer when owner/operator Debbie Johnson voluntarily closed them.

After years of relentless advocacy Susan Sanderson, executive director of Realistic Recovery Society, was happy to host the ministers’ Friday announcement at one of its houses. She wants to believe Darcy that these are just first steps since the per-diem rate is still short of the $40 she and others lobbied for and remains a small fraction of what people who aren’t on welfare are charged — charges that can run up to $350 a day.

Having taken these long overdue and much-needed initial steps, maybe Darcy and her colleagues can take another logical next step to support working people getting access recovery who — without access to employee benefit plans — can’t afford the cost of treatment.

They shouldn’t have to wait until they’re destitute to get care, any more than someone on welfare should be deprived of help.

[email protected]

Twitter.com/bramham_daphne

Related

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].

4Jun

‘Police have become part of the mental health system:’ B.C. Coroner studies deaths after police encounters

by admin

Police across the province need to work closer with mental health officials in assessing vulnerable people with whom they have contact, a new study by the B.C. Coroners Services says.

The Coroners Service put together a panel of experts that reviewed the deaths of 127 people who had contact with police within the previous 24 hour and found two-thirds were struggling with mental health and addiction issues.

Their report – Opportunities for Different Outcomes – recommended improving coordination between health services and police, increasing access to mental health assessment and using findings from police encounters for ongoing professional development.

The deaths in the review occurred over five years from 2013 to the end of 2017 and included 56 suicides, 40 accidental or overdose deaths, seven deemed natural and 21 attributable to police used of force. Three deaths resulted from injuries caused by others.

The study noted that 84 percent of the people on the study were men and 61 percent struggled with illicit drug use.

Indigenous people were overrepresented in the numbers, making up 20 percent of the deaths reviewed despite being just six percent of the B.C. population.

The report noted that police have more than 400,000 encounters with civilians each year for criminal-code or traffic-related offences, “and the vast majority of police interactions are resolved without incident.”

Of those calls, more than 74,000 a year are related to mental health issues.

This review found that of the deaths studied, it was often a metal health or substance abuse issue that led to the original call to police.

Related

“More than half of the decedents were exhibiting mental health symptoms at the time of police contact,” the study said.

Many of the deaths were of people living in rural parts of the province.

Michael Egilson, of the B.C. Coroners Service, chaired the review panel, which included 19 experts in policing, police oversight, public health, health services, mental health and addictions.

Egilson said the report highlights the role of police in responding to mental health emergencies in the community.

“These are situations where police officers de-escalate crisis situations, and assess, triage and transport persons for emergency care to health services or to cells,” he said.

“We need to drive home the point that the police have become part of the mental health system and that their role needs to be acknowledged, supported and incorporated into the larger provincial mental health and addictions strategy.”

The deaths highlighted in the report were anonymized with no names or locations included.

[email protected]

blog: vancouversun.com/tag/real-scoop

twitter.com/kbolan




Source link

19Mar

Coroners: Carfentanil detected in 13 of 90 overdose deaths in January

by admin


A Vancouver RCMP officer opens a printer ink bottle containing the opioid carfentanil imported from China. Drug dealers have been cutting carfentanil and its weaker cousin, fentanyl, into heroin and other illicit drugs to boost profit margins.


Submitted / RCMP

B.C.’s coroners say there were 90 suspected illicit-drug overdose deaths in the province in January, including more than a dozen in which they detected carfentanil.

The synthetic opioid carfentanil, which began showing up in B.C.’s street-drug supply in late 2016, turned up in 13 illicit-drug overdose deaths in January, according to a B.C. Coroners Service update released Tuesday. Carfentanil was detected in 35 deaths in all of 2018 and 71 deaths in the last seven months of 2017. Carfentanil is many orders of magnitude more potent, and dangerous, than fentanyl.

Fentanyl and analogs were detected in about 87 per cent of overdose deaths last year, up from 82 per cent in 2017, the service said.

Coroners also updated the total number of illicit-drug overdose deaths in 2018 to 1,510, up from the 1,489 deaths it reported last month (the numbers change as toxicology reports are completed and investigations are concluded). Overdoses killed 1,486 in 2017 and 991 in 2016.

The coroners said 90 people died of an illicit-drug overdose in B.C. in January, down from 130 deaths in January 2018, and below the 116 deaths in December 2018.

The coroners service says no one died at a supervised consumption or drug-overdose prevention site.

Most of the deaths in January were in the Vancouver Coastal Health (29) and Fraser Health (27) regions, and 88 per cent occurred indoors, including 62 per cent in private residences and 26 per cent in other residences such as social housing or hotels.

People aged 30 to 59 accounted for 76 per cent of those who died, and 83 per cent were male.

twitter.com/nickeagland




Source link

7Feb

Record overdose deaths in 2018 prompt calls for safer supply

by admin

Despite increased work to combat B.C.’s public-health emergency, more people died of an overdose in 2018 than any other year on record, leading to calls to make heroin and alternatives available at the doctor’s office.

The B.C. Coroners Service said Thursday that 1,489 people died of a suspected illicit-drug overdose in B.C. last year, up from 1,487 in 2017. Most who died were men (80 per cent) aged 30-59 (71 per cent), and most died indoors (86 per cent). Fentanyl, an opioid being cut into heroin and other drugs, was detected in about 85 per cent of the deaths, up from 82 per cent in 2017.

Made with Flourish

People running overdose prevention sites and expanding access to Suboxone treatment and the overdose-reversing drug naloxone have been credited with keeping the crisis from getting worse.

But to actually reduce the death toll in 2019, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry said B.C. needs to introduce a safer supply of drugs to replace the toxic street-drug supply.

Henry said it’s important to first have low-barrier access to opioid-agnoist treatments like Suboxone and methadone for people on a path to recovery. But for some people, swapping out their fentanyl-poisoned street drugs with pharmaceutical ones needs to be a first step.

“For people who, right now, have an addiction to opioids … and are relying on this contaminated street-drug supply on a daily basis, and they’re not in a place in their lives where they’re willing or able to enter the treatment side of the spectrum, we need to have options to provide them with a safer supply than what they’re getting on the street so that they stay alive during this period of time,” she said.

“They’re at such high risk of death right now.”

Made with Flourish

Dr. Jane Buxton of the B.C. Centre for Disease Control said people should be able to seek access to a regulated, safer supply of opioids through a physician.

“Depending on who it is, we still know that going through treatment, that suits some people,” she said. “Other people, especially (those) on Suboxone, that can be life-changing. But that doesn’t suit everybody, so we have to have that variety of options.”

She pointed to a program run by the Portland Hotel Society’s Dr. Christy Sutherland, who has started 300 people on liquid hydromorphone and who last month added 50 more spots for people to crush hydromorphone pills and inject them.

When certain people who use drugs are engaged with the health system in this way, they can go on to seek treatment, food, housing and other supports, Buxton said.

“What we’ve seen in the past is that when people have a stable supply, then their life becomes more stable, then they’re able to potentially think about other treatment and being on other opioid-agnoist therapies,” she said.

“Most people are seeking drugs in the illicit market, which are dangerous, and it’s hard to be stable when that’s part of your life and things are so toxic.”

Jordan Westfall, president of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, said he found hope in the chief health officer’s comments about a safer supply.

“I think the barriers need to be reduced,” Westfall said.

He said programs like the Crosstown Clinic, which provides medical-grade heroin and hydromorphone, are crucial, but for some people the requirement that they visit clinics or nurses several times a day is too high a barrier.


Jordan Westfall, president of the Canadian Association of People Who Use Drugs, outside Insite in Vancouver on May 17, 2018.

Gerry Kahrmann /

PNG

Westfall added that not all people who use drugs seek recovery, and some will continue to seek street drugs to treat their own pain or feel the euphoric effects.

“We need to make sure our programs are as accessible as the street-drug supply which, for many people, is very accessible,” he said.

“You should be able to go to a physician and get a prescription for a drug, if the alternative is you buying that drug on the street and dying.”

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy said her ministry is working on a wide variety of evidence-based solutions to the public health emergency.

“We are going to use every tool in the toolbox,” she said. “We are not going to leave any stone unturned when it comes to safe alternatives for people to the poison-drug supply.”

Darcy said her ministry is working with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use to train more physicians in addiction and 2,100 have enrolled in a program since July.

But Darcy’s ministry must work with federal legislation that prohibits the use of controlled substances, which prevents her ministry from simply allowing doctors to prescribe heroin and substitutes at clinics, she said.

“We’re pushing the envelope within that federal context,” she said.

Jane Thornthwaite, B.C. Liberal opposition critic for mental health and addictions, said she supports making a safer drug supply available to immediately save lives, but said it must be paired with a pathway to treatment and recovery options for anyone who uses it.

“You need to have the support systems in place for these people to actually move forward,” Thornthwaite said. “If we’re not going to get to the root of the problem, then this crisis is not going to get any better. We’ll just have new people getting into the system and it could grow and grow.”

[email protected]

twitter.com/nickeagland

CLICK HERE to report a typo.

Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email [email protected].</p




Source link

7Feb

Drug overdoses killed nearly 1,500 people in 2018, says coroner

by admin

A total of 1,489 people died in B.C. of suspected drug overdoses in 2018, a figure that health officials say will likely increase as ongoing investigations wrap up.

On Thursday, the B.C. Coroners Service released its latest set of data on illicit drug overdose deaths. The number of overdose deaths in 2018 edged past the 1,487 deaths recorded in 2017, though this figure could change as health officials conclude investigations of deaths recorded toward the end of the year.

Even so, chief coroner Lisa Lapointe said the rate at which people were dying continued at an “alarming rate” last year.

“The illicit drug supply is unpredictable and unmanageable, and fentanyl is now implicated in 86 per cent of overdose deaths,” she said in a news release sharing the year-end figures. According to Lapointe, the rate of overdose deaths surpasses the numbers of people dying from car crashes, homicides and suicides combined.


A total of 120 deaths were recorded in November 2018, which works out to about four deaths per day that month.

BC CORONERS SERVICE

Innovative and evidence-based approaches are necessary if we want to effect meaningful change and stop the dying. We need to be prepared to do things differently to save lives.”

Middle-aged men continue to be the largest demographic represented in the totals, with men accounting for 80 per cent of suspected overdose deaths and those aged 30 to 59 accounting for 71 per cent of deaths. A total of 86 per cent of deaths occur indoors, with spikes on days immediately following distribution of welfare cheques.


Middle-age men remain the most overrepresented group among overdose deaths.

BC CORONERS SERVICE

The number of overdose deaths in 2018 equates to about four deaths per day for the entire year. Of the 365 days of 2018, at least one death was recorded on 354 of those days.

“This latest report confirms what those on the frontline already know all too well: this crisis is not slowing down,” said Dr. Evan Wood, executive director with the B.C. Centre on Substance Use.

“If we’re going to stop overdoses from happening, we urgently need to end the harms caused by prohibition while also implementing upstream responses that address the serious health and social consequences of untreated addiction.”

[email protected]
twitter.com/stephanie_ip


The majority of overdose deaths in 2018 occurred indoors at private residences.

BC CORONERS SERVICE




Source link

This website uses cookies and asks your personal data to enhance your browsing experience.