New substance use beds opening in Island Health communities

October 21, 2016

Vancouver Island – Island Health is on track to deliver 93 substance use beds as part of the provincial plan to open 500 substance use spaces throughout British Columbia.

Island Health’s 93 beds are based on population proportion and will support and enhance existing substance use services. Since the initiative began in 2014, Island Health has already opened 55 beds across its service area – plans are underway to open the remaining 38 beds by early 2017.

“We understand the harms and incredible risks of substance use, and that’s why more beds are needed to help people get back on track,” said Health Minister Terry Lake. “Everyone deserves a chance. Adding beds on Vancouver Island shows that we value our strong communities, and can help individuals struggling with substance use with support recovery beds and services.”

The 55 beds which have already opened are located throughout Island Health:
   • Victoria: 14 tertiary supportive recovery beds, 10 supportive recovery beds and     five stabilization beds for adults and six supportive recovery beds for youth
   • Nanaimo: Four crisis stabilization beds for Aboriginal youth with concurrent mental health and substance use challenges
   • Courtenay: Six supportive recovery beds for women
   • Port Alberni: Five stabilization and supportive recovery beds
   • North Island: Five withdrawal management/community detox beds on the North Island located in Port Hardy

"I'm looking forward to the positive impact these beds will have on the community, and proud to support the number of beds that have already opened, helping countless adults and youth," said Don McRae, MLA for Comox Valley.

The remaining 38 beds will be located in communities throughout the Island Health region. In addition, when Island Health residents need to attend residential treatment facilities on the Lower Mainland, Island Health teams coordinate referrals and provide funding assistance. These services are part of a continuum of mental health and substance use programming.

“Ensuring that both adults and youth have better access and improved outcomes for mental health and substance use is a top priority for Island Health,” said Don Hubbard, Island Health Board Chair. “This additional treatment capacity will be a significant improvement and will help ensure appropriate levels of supports and services are available to people who need them.”

Cheryl Damstetter, Island Health’s Chief of Population and Community Health said: “For people who are living with substance use issues, these beds – and the supportive recovery services that surround them – will help support individuals through their personal journey toward recovery and will benefit not only them but also their children, families and communities.”

On July 27, 2016, Premier Christy Clark announced a new Joint Task Force on Overdose Prevention and Response. The actions being taken under the task force support the ongoing work to support and treat British Columbians with substance use issues, a key priority of government.

The province has committed to meet the goal of opening 500 new substance use treatment beds in 2017, and today’s announcement of more beds and the treatment and intervention services that surround them will work to meet that goal. In the past two years, the Province has opened more than 220 new beds as part of this commitment to ensure better access to appropriate substance use treatment and supports.

Island Health provides health care and support services to more than 765,000 people on Vancouver Island, the islands in the Salish Sea and the Johnstone Strait, and the mainland communities north of Powell River. For more information, visit www.viha.ca, follow us on Twitter @VanIslandHealth, or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/VanIslandHealth.

Central/North Island media inquiries
Valerie Wilson
Director, Communications and Engagement
Central/North Island

South Island media inquiries:
Kellie Hudson
Media Relations Manager South Island (including the Cowichan Valley)