June 17th, 2019

Medicine Hat Supervised Consumption Site location announced

By Kuhl, Nick on January 16, 2019.

Gillian Slade

Southern Alberta Newspapers – Medicine Hat

A Supervised Consumption Site for Medicine Hat will be located in the building that used to be the Mango Tree restaurant, HIV Community Link announced Tuesday.

A lease agreement has already been finalized and the SCS is expected to be in operation later this year, according to a press release.

“HIV Community Link is committed to working with the City of Medicine Hat, the community and the other members of MHCSC (Medicine Hat Coalition on Supervised Consumption) to proactively plan and implement services that respond to the needs of people at risk of overdose, while minimizing any potential impacts to the surrounding areas,” said Leslie Hill, executive director HIV Community Link and chair of the MHCSC.

Approval from Health Canada is required to operate a SCS because illicit drugs will be consumed on site. An initial application was submitted in June 2018. Recently Health Canada has begun indicating online that a financial plan is now complete. Outstanding aspects before approval is given include, local conditions, a consultation report and policies and procedures.

Initial research indicated the ideal location for a SCS would be in the downtown and North Railway areas where people who would be using the facility are in close proximity. Other considerations included access to a pharmacy providing methadone. Fourth Street Pharmacy is just a couple blocks from this SCS location at 502 South Railway Street SE.

The SCS will not only provide a supervised location for someone taking drugs but will also provide a range of services to address a range of issues the individual may be grappling with.

There have been 18 fentanyl-related overdose deaths in Medicine Hat since 2016, according to Alberta Health. HIV Community Link also says other data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information indicates that Medicine Hat has the fifth-highest rate of hospitalizations related to opioid overdose when it comes to smaller Canadian cities.

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