Red Deer’s temporary overdose prevention site has been granted a six-month extension, so it can operate until March 31.
Earlier this year, the site’s operation was extended to Sept. 30, while the provincial government considered changes to supervised consumption services and other addiction treatment and recovery resources.
Sarah Fleck, clinical manager at Turning Point, which runs the site, said Alberta Health Services granted the extension about a week ago.
“We had a lot of clients that were getting concerned. They’re definitely breathing a sigh of relief,” Fleck said.
She said the drug supply has been more unpredictable during the pandemic. Some batches can result in a lot of overdoses in a short period of time and clients were worried about being able to resuscitate their friends or family members.
Red Deer’s overdose prevention site, located in an ATCO trailer at 5246 53rd Ave., has booths for people to inject, snort or orally consume their previously obtained drugs while being monitored by someone trained and able to provide immediate life-saving measures as needed.
In August, there were 3,021 site visits from 226 clients, an average of 97 site visits per day.
Fleck said Turning Point was still awaiting recommendations from the province’s review of supervised consumption sites.
The agency was getting ready to turn a building at 5233 54th Ave., northwest of Superstore, into a supervised consumption site to provide more services, when the review was announced.
There are six safe consumption sites in Alberta — in Edmonton and Calgary — and proposals for three more, including the one in Red Deer.
In July, the province stopped funding a safe consumption site in Lethbridge after an audit showed financial irregularities.
Fleck said staff are grateful for the opportunity to continue to provide life-saving services to clients, as well as refer them to other social services in the continuum of care, such as detox, treatment and housing.
“We’re going to continue to focus on referrals and documenting those referrals, so we can show the amount of conversations we’re having directing people to other social services and health services in Red Deer.
“That’s a big part of what we do and we’re grateful to other agencies that are providing services that support our clients.”