Province moves mobile hospital to DTES to help ease OD overload at St. Paul’s

published on December 12, 2016 by Gordon McIntyre in The Province

The province’s mobile medical unit has served as a M.A.S.H.-like emergency room at the Olympics, festivals and outside hospitals being renovated: On Tuesday it begins saving lives in the Downtown Eastside.

Inside a tent with all the necessary equipment and staffed with a half-dozen emergency doctors plus nurses and paramedics, the mobile unit will operate 18 hours a day for as long as it’s needed in the fight against the opioid crisis, officials said.

It is, said Dr. Keith Ahamad, an addictions physician at St. Paul’s, a revolutionary approach to battling an opioid crisis.

“I don’t know of anywhere in the world that has done anything like it to deal with an overdose epidemic like this,” he said. “All the agencies that are involved, just the community of physicians and nurses and other support groups that have come together to staff this mobile medical unit.

“To have addiction services, an addiction medicine program and emergency services all together in one spot is, I think, unprecedented.”

Meanwhile, the reaction to a federal government move on Monday to ease Bill C-2 restrictions on supervised injection sites was relief.

“It’s a good thing, we’ve been asking for this for a long, long time,” Coastal Health’s Daly said. “It’s incredibly onerous under Bill C-2 to apply for an exemption.”

Easing the criteria that need to be met by 80 per cent means that new supervised sites will begin operating more quickly in Metro Vancouver, she said.

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