Permanent Calgary consumption site opens Monday after 55 overdoses reversed - 660 NEWS
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Permanent Calgary consumption site opens Monday after 55 overdoses reversed

After over 2,500 visits to Calgary’s temporary supervised drug consumption site in the Beltline, the city and Alberta’s first permanent facility will open on Monday.

AHS’ Safeworks program coordinator Claire O’Gorman confirmed the date Friday during a tour of the new facility, on the first floor of the Sheldon M. Chumir Health Centre.

“We do expect them (number of visits) to continue, I’m not sure if we’ll see them go up or not,” she said.

The visits included 55 reversed overdoses – five requiring EMS response – which O’Gorman said is proof the program is working.

“Already 55 lives saved making an impact in this opioid crisis, which we know needs a wide variety of services and lots of multi-faceted response in order to make a change, but this is one part of that and it’s already having an impact,” she said.

While reversed overdoses is good news for Calgary, it’ll be some time until we know how much of an impact there will be province-wide.

The four centres approved for Edmonton and one for Lethbridge aren’t online yet and the data from the final quarter of 2017 is still being collected.

In the last quarter, AHS reported a 40 per cent increase in opioid deaths compared to the year before, with 68 deaths in the Calgary zone.

Over the first nine months overall in 2017, there were 482 deaths.

Associate Minister of Health Brandy Payne said while it’s good news the centre is opening, there’s no benchmark for an expectation of how numbers could go down.

“Were going to keep our eyes on the situation and move forward as we need to,” she said, adding the temporary trailer could be moved elsewhere in the city, although there’s no immediate plan for it.