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Improved Withdrawal Management Services at Balmoral Centre

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THUNDER BAY, ON   ----  February 14, 2013  ---  The North West Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) announced today that it will provide more than $988,000 Nort West LIHNin funding to increase crisis withdrawal and stabilization services at St. Joseph’s Care Group’s Balmoral Withdrawal Management Centre (Detoxification) in Thunder Bay.

Local Substance Use Related Issues

  •  Over 700,000 needles exchanged annually1
  •  Over 1,000 people in methadone treatment in Thunder Bay
  •  Highest rate of public intoxication arrests in province2

  Deaths in Northwestern Ontario are occurring in greater numbers due to drug overdose than to motor vehicle collisions (closed cases for 2010-2011 is 48 deaths due to motor vehicle collisions, and 56 due to drug overdose)3

As part of a two-year pilot project, Balmoral Centre will be converted from a Level 2 non-medical facility with seven crisis management beds to a Level 3 facility, with 22 crisis management and stabilization beds, and will include 24-hour nursing support.

“This is great news for our facility, and particularly great news for the people in this region who need support,” said Nancy Black, Director of Concurrent Disorder St oe Care GroupServices at St. Joseph’s Care Group, which operates the Balmoral Centre. “Credit to the LHIN for understanding that we needed additional resources to meet the increasingly complex needs of people living with addiction in our community.”

Balmoral Centre, which is operated by St. Joseph’s Care Group, was originally designed in 1989 as an alcohol detoxification facility. However, addiction to drugs, particularly prescription opiates, has become more widespread in recent years, and the centre has struggled to meet the growng need.

“When people are unable to access the care they need in their community, they are forced to go the emergency department,” said Laura Kokocinski, CEO of the North West LHIN. “It puts huge strain on our hospitals. We want people receiving the right care, at the right time, in the right place, by the right provider.”

It is expected that the new funding and resources will mean that Balmoral Centre will be able to serve 80 percent more people. By the second year of the project, that will result in an estimated 20 percent reduction in mental health and addiction-related visits to the emergency department at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.

In addition, Balmoral Centre will be able to provide more support for home-based withdrawal management services, and the centre will also expand its telemedicine outreach to people in the Northwest who are unable to travel into Thunder Bay.

The expansion of crisis withdrawal management services has been identified as a priority action item within the Thunder Bay Municipal Drug Strategy and was also a major theme of discussion at recent community planning events regarding the Accommodation Needs Assessment for the City of Thunder Bay and in consultation with regional partners.

Tracy Buckler, President & CEO of St. Joseph's Care Group, emphasized the importance and effectiveness of working collaboratively and across sectors.
“For the past few years, we have been working closely with our funders, the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy, and regional partners to address the growing need for services and supports for individuals and families living with substance use issues,” she said. “We look forward to working with our clients, staff and community partners on this initiative."

“This expansion is something that we’ve long advocated for with the Ministry of Health. Our hospital, the City and the Thunder Bay Police made it clear to us that more detox beds and services were needed. We listened and brought that forward with a sense of urgency. I’m extremely pleased to see that those beds, and the enhanced level of medical support, are becoming a reality. This will help ease pressures on our emergency department and will ultimately improve the overall health of our community. I congratulate all the partners who have worked with us to make this happen.”

Drug Fact Sheet

In 2009, responding to a request from a former City Manager, the Thunder Bay District Health Unit began the process of mobilizing the community to create a Municipal Drug Strategy. A steering committee of community leaders was formed with representation from enforcement, business, education, treatment, prevention, justice, and harm reduction. The community was extensively consulted throughout the project to ensure that the strategy would be relevant, community-based and appropriate for its diverse population, including First Nations people. After nearly three years of community consultations, strategy sessions and pillar meetings, the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy: Roadmap for Change was released.

Thunder Bay City Council ratified the Thunder Bay Drug Strategy (TBDS) in 2011, accepting it as its official plan to reduce the harms associated with substance use. “Travelling the Road to Change: Thunder Bay Drug Strategy Community Report” was released in May 2012, which identified 21 priority actions that could be realistically achieved in the first three years of implementation.

Local Substance Use Related Issues

  •  Over 700,000 needles exchanged annually1
  •  Over 1,000 people in methadone treatment in Thunder Bay
  •  Highest rate of public intoxication arrests in province2
  •   Deaths in Northwestern Ontario are occurring in greater numbers due to drug overdose than to motor vehicle collisions (closed cases for 2010-2011 is 48 deaths due to motor vehicle collisions, and 56 due to drug overdose)3

Current Drug Strategy Priority Actions

  • Facilitate community education about substance use and related issues
  • Improve needle disposal
  • Improve housing outcomes for people with mental health and addiction
  • Increase overdose prevention initiatives Enhance crisis response and outreach services for people who use substances

Thunder Bay Drug Strategy Accommodation Needs Assessment & Community Plan

The City of Thunder Bay has partnered with several key Drug Strategy members to examine the accommodation needs of people who use substances and create a community plan for substance use related services that makes treatment and support more accessible for everyone. The research was led by the Centre for Community Based Research in partnership with Confederation College who gathered local information through citizen surveys, focus groups and information sessions.

The resulting Community Plan should be complete by March 2013. It will outline a system for providing housing and accommodation services and supports for people who use substances along the continuum of care and will include a short-term action strategy that, when implemented, will provide measurable results in relation to services, supports and system enhancement.

1 Superior Points, 2012
2 Thunder Bay Police Service
3 Dr. Michael Wilson, Regional Supervising Coroner, Northern Ontario

PREPARED BY: Cynthia Olsen, TBDS Coordinator
(807)625-2942
colsen@thunderbay.ca

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