Mobile safe injection site hoping to curb substance abuse in North Hastings
Photo credit: Hastings and Prince Edward Public Health Nurse Julie Verch
Safe Use Hastings is applying to the federal government to help fund a safe injection site so that drug users have a safe place to use substances. The site will have access to safe supplies to curb infection, access to treatment, drugs to prevent overdose, health services, and in some cases social workers. The initiative is headed up by Dr. Ashley White, and will serve communities in Coe Hill, Maynooth and Bancroft. A virtual planning meeting is scheduled for May 11th from 6 PM to 8 PM.
Advocacy Lead for the new site Lisa Fiorotto-Bickert says the goal, depending on how much funding the federal government agrees to, is to get a Winnebago that will be filled with medical equipment, supplies for users, and options for help. Ideally, there would also be a social worker on board who can help those who are looking for treatment. In addition, there will be needle drop-off points where users can deposit used needles to dispose of them. Fiorotto-Bickert says the points will have QR codes, which will tell users where the next safe injection site will be located. However this will all be dependent on the budget the feds approve, which is why they need as much public support as possible. They also invite municipal government officials from North Hastings to sit in on the meeting, as their support would be vital for the site’s success.
Fiorotto-Bickert says while the task seems daunting and overwhelming, the long-term benefits to North Hastings cannot be understated. Risks to both users and the general public will decrease, and needle drop-off points will stop syringes from winding up on public sidewalks, paths and other areas. Safe injection sites give users a safe, clean place to use drugs where someone can watch over them should they overdose. It also keeps users away from criminal activities associated with drugs, like human trafficking. Fiorotto-Bickert says between the homelessness situation and an overwhelmed and underfunded North Hastings Community Trust, a site like this will provide a safe place free of stigma where people can get access to treatment. When asked about concerns that the sites would bring drugs into the community, Fiorotto-Bickert says drugs are already in the community, and one of the best ways to solve the crisis is to set up a place for users to feel safe and find a way out of addiction safely.
For more information, you can find Safe Use Hastings on Instagram and Facebook.