It is also the first overdose prevention site to be located outside the Downtown Eastside, within the boundaries of the Vancouver Coastal Health region.
Asthe overdose crisis has fleshed out and spread across Vancouver, a need arose for a site serving the West End and Granville corridor, said ScottHarrison, director of urban health, Indigenous health, substance use, maternity and neonatal intensive care with Providence Health Care.
âAnd we had multiple overdoses within the hospital and nowhere to send people that was in close proximity to us,â he said.
Overdose drug deaths in B.C. rose almost 60 per cent in March over February overdoses, according to the B.C. Coroners Service.
The St. Paulâs site is in a bright blue tent off the hospitalâs Thurlow Street entrance, behind the Vancouver Police Foundationâs Transitional Care Centre.
Alida Geraldi, a peer support worker with Raincity Housing, was there on Wednesday as 24 people visited the site, the busiest day the tent had seen so far.
âIâve been in the tent since day one and every day the number of people who come to use the service has gone up,â she said. âItâs awesome, weâre here to save lives and word is getting out.â
Since it opened on May 7, there have been 130 unique visitors, Harrison said.
Substance users see St. Paulâs as a safe place to be after overdosing, he said, adding that many people who overdose die alone because of the stigma of drug use.
Inside the tent users can take advantage of clean needles and injection supplies, needle disposal, take-home naloxone kits, training in how to use the kits, health and community service referrals, plus monitoring and emergency care.
The site, open from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. seven days a week, is paid for by Vancouver Coastal Health and managed by Raincity Housing, which provides peer support and staff. St Paulâs Hospital is managed byProvidence Health Care.
Existing overdose prevention sites in B.C. have overseen more than 130,000 visits since December, 2016, and reversed more than 1,000 overdoses without a fatality, according to Providence Health Care.