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Lethbridge opens safe consumption site Wednesday, so what’s the hold up in Red Deer?

Fingers are crossed that Red Deer will be next after Lethbridge opened its safe consumption site on Wednesday.
Stacey Carmichael, Turning Point executive director, aspires to open a safe consumption site, similar to this one in Lethbridge. Photo supplied by ARCHES in Lethbridge

Fingers are crossed that Red Deer will be next after Lethbridge opened its safe consumption site on Wednesday.

Stacey Carmichael, executive director at Turning Point, said Lethbridge is a similar size city as Red Deer with similar opioid-related issues.

“So what’s happening in Red Deer, what’s the hold up?”

Answering her own question, she said, Red Deer needs to find a location.

The City of Red Deer has chosen the Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre or its parking lot as a safe consumption site. The city is also leaning towards a mobile supervised consumption services clinic versus a traditional clinic.

Both of those city choices are not acceptable to Turning Point.

See related: Red Deer readies for supervised drug consumption site

Alberta Health Services third quarter report released in November 2017 shows that Red Deer’s hospital ranked sixth in the province’s top 10 emergency department’s opioid-related visits. Lethbridge’s Chinook Regional Hospital ranked ninth.

Turning Point wants to open a safe consumption site similar to the one in Lethbridge, run by AIDS Outreach Community Harm Reduction Education & Support Society (ARCHES).

Carmichael said that site is the first one in Canada to offer smoking or inhaling – a way to consume opioids. Other sites offer injection, ingestion (of a pill), or intranasal methods.

She said Turning Point’s proposed safe injection site model for Red Deer includes smoking – a service that won’t be part of a mobile consumption clinic.

She said none of the methods are ideal but inhaling is lesser of the two evils – between smoking and injecting drugs.

“In our needs assessment (we found) a lot of folks are smoking and are overdosing by smoking, and a lot of them are smoking drugs outside for a variety of reasons like saving people lives,” she said.

On Tuesday, Turning Point launched SCS Red Deer, a new Facebook group, where they want to engage with Red Deerians about issues such as the location of a safe consumption site in the city.

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