Nelson Fentanyl Task Force funds $15k toward providing new prescription options

This article was originally posted in the Nelson Star: Oct 21, 2020

The money supports an outreach worker who helps people access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants.

The Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF) has directed $15,000 in funding to help improve access to new provincial pandemic prescribing options for people who use substances, also referred to as safe supply. The NFTF is a collaborative group formed in 2016 in response to the overdose crisis, and is comprised of healthcare workers, emergency responders, and many other stakeholders across the community.

The funds will go towards supporting an outreach worker on a team in Nelson. The team supports people to access pharmaceutical opioids and stimulants to mitigate the deadly effects of the overdose crisis. The ANKORS outreach worker, funded by NFTF and ANKORS, works with outreach staff from several other local organizations, including Nelson CARES, Interior Health and Nelson Community Services.

The BC Coroner’s report shows that more people are dying due to overdose in British Columbia than ever before. In the first eight months of 2020, 1,068 people have died due to overdose in B.C., which is more than in all of 2019. Overdose prevention sites, wider use of naloxone, opioid agonist therapy (OAT), and drug checking responses in B.C. were contributing to reduced death rates prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Online – Nelson Fentanyl Task Force Collaborative meeting

Activities of the regional Community Action Teams (CAT) centralize on addressing the impact of the fentanyl/opioid crisis, as declared in 2016 in British Columbia. Activities will focus on implementation of recommendations from best healthcare practices, including harm reduction practices, to help to reduce death due to overdose, to reduce overdoses, and to reduce the impact of the crisis in rural BC. Members will work actively to support and enhance Community Inclusion Practices. This work centralizes the experiences of people with lived and living experience (PWLLE) to promote and improve individual and collective welfare in the community. This work will centralize the experiences of Indigenous community members, including Elders. Work will be adapted to meet individual community concerns with a focus on increasing social stabilization for PWLLE and also to improve overall community stabilization and safety. The CAT will make efforts to work in conjunction with local emergency responders to promote public safety in the community.

The Nelson Fentanyl Task Force (NFTF) and the Castlegar Fentanyl Opioid Working Group (CFOWG) and the new Grand Forks Community Action Team (GFCAT) work to improve services for people with lived and living experience of substance use (PWLLE) in our rural and remote communities. There is a focus on reducing barriers to service, increasing access to treatment and support, reducing stigma, improving emergency response, and increasing education around the fentanyl/opioid crisis in an effort to save lives. The members of our regional CAT groups work in an interagency fashion to collaborate around important issues facing people in our region. We work to centralize the voices of people with lived and living experience of substance use (PWLLE) and respond to their needs. We work to understand Indigenous people in our region and their healing ways and needs as related to the fentanyl/opioid crisis. The members of our CAT groups are committed to taking action to improve access to services and reduce stigma in our communities. Safety is important when discussing this topic and we make all efforts to stay respectful and supportive in our discussions and during action planning. All members commit to supporting a safe space to discuss challenging topics like harm reduction and overdose crisis related issues. (Amanda Erickson MA RCC-Facilitator