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Safe injection site sees 669 visits in first month: report

New data released shows about 200 unique clients using the site, with fentanyl being the most-used drug on site
2022-06-30 SHST opening10 MH
Safe Health Site Timmins is located at 21 Cedar St. N., across from city hall.

In its first month of operation, nearly 200 people used the new safe injection site in Timmins.

Operated by Timmins and District Hospital (TADH), the organization has released data for its first month in service. So far, there have been no overdoses, 911 calls or deaths at the site.

Approved by Health Canada in June, Safe Health Site Timmins (SHST) is located on Cedar Street North across from city hall. It's a space for people to use previously obtained drugs by injection, orally or snorting under the supervision of trained medical staff. People can also stop in to use the bathroom or to connect with other services.

It officially opened its doors on July 4. In the first month, there were 669 visits, with about 200 unique client visits. 

RELATED: Safe injection site could mean fewer needles downtown, 911 calls

“Our community is clearly demonstrating the need for enhanced addiction supports like the  SHST,” said Patrick Nowak, Addictions and Outpatient Mental Health Programs manager at TADH, in a news release.

He said SHST is on track to double the number of client visits this month.

Harm reduction was the main reason for people accessing the site, with 326 visits. There were 232 visits for people to use on-site, 167 visits for site-use only, 119 for other things such as to use the phone or bathroom, and 65 visits for site use and harm reduction supplies.

Most people are using fentanyl, which accounts for 64.6 per cent of the substances used on-site. The next most-used drug is crystal meth at 22.2 per cent, speed at 7.8 per cent and heroin at 2.5 per cent. Other drugs make up the remaining 2.9 per cent.

Opening SHST was an important milestone for Dr. Louisa Marion-Bellemare, who worked alongside Dr. Julie Samson to see the site come to fruition.

She noted that fentanyl has contributed to many local opioid-related deaths.

 “Having a space where they can be connected to the supports and services they need, while being supervised by trained medical professionals is saving lives," she said in the news release.

SHST is an urgent public health needs site (UPHNS)  and is a temporary solution to bridge the gap while work continues to secure a permanent supervised consumption site.

“An urgent public health needs site will not solve the opioid crisis in our community, but it is a  very important piece of the overall comprehensive drug strategy,” said Samson.

“This site is meeting people where they are and ensuring that  supports are quickly wrapped around them when they ask for help.” 

Related: Safe injection site location chosen for number of reasons
See: $2.3M will add 15 new addictions treatment beds in Timmins

People are also receiving services. 

In July, two people were provided with counselling, eight people were given harm reduction teachings, 278 were given practical support (such as using the phone, bathroom or accessing snacks or site information), and 10 people received basic medical care. 

Two people were also referred to addiction services and eight people were referred to other social services.