(File)

B.C. moves to curb high number of overdose deaths by recent inmates

Community transition teams set up in Surrey, Prince George, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Port Coquitlam

B.C. is launching a project aimed at reducing the number of overdose deaths by inmates recently released from correctional facilities.

A coroner’s death review panel last year found about two-thirds B.C. residents who died of an illegal drug overdose over a 19-month period had recent contact with the criminal justice system.

READ MORE: Opioid crisis may be shortening British Columbians’ life expectancy

The panel said that between January 2016 and the end of July 2017, 333 people died within their first month of release from a correctional facility.

The Health Ministry said Wednesday that five new community transition teams have been set up in Surrey, Prince George, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Port Coquitlam to help people with opioid use disorders get treatment.

The teams consist of a social worker and a peer who has used drugs and may also been incarcerated to work with a person who’s been released to help provide needed support.

Lynne Pelletier, with B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services, says people in the justice system are some of society’s most vulnerable, yet they are the hardest to reach in the current overdose emergency.

“Integrating correctional care with community-based care gives us an opportunity not just to prevent overdose, but also connect to health services and possibly change the trajectory of their lives by addressing some of the social and economic realities that brought them to us in the first place.”

Dr. Nader Sharifi, medical director for Correctional Health Services, says about 40 per cent of people in corrections facilities are getting treatment for opioid use disorder.

He says people are at a heightened risk when they leave a facility and don’t have access to a physician.

“There are barriers to continuing the treatment they start with us. Clients are facing stigma. They might have no income and no fixed address. It’s not as easy as visiting the nearest doctor’s office,” he says in a news release.

The community transition teams began connecting with their first clients this month. The Provincial Health Services Authority says it hopes to scale up the project next year based on results of the service.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Fast-paced South Okanagan fundraiser guaranteed to thrill

Area 27 motorsports club members are offering the ride of a lifetime in support of OSNS

Wrestling legend finds his wedding dance groove in Penticton

Professional wrestler Chris Jericho posted on social media that he was in Penticton recently

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Okanagan RCMP officers detain a driver in handcuffs

Penticton RCMP officers pulled over a vehicle and handcuffed the driver as they searched the car

Controversial anti-abortion film to be screened in Penticton

Unplanned will be shown at the Penticton Landmark theatre

Practice makes perfect for Penticton’s Peach Classic triathlon winner

Over 300 triathletes competed in the 36th edition of the Peach City Classic Triathlon Sunday.

Lightning causes three wildfires east of Osoyoos

It is believed the fires started by a lightning storm

Backyard fundraiser raises over $40,000 for Foundry Kelowna, CMHA

‘The message was really about treating mental health like any other illness’

Crash closes Highway 1 near Tappen

The collision happened about 3:30 p.m. by James Road

Air ambulance called to second collision on Highway 1 west of Salmon Arm

Emergency crews respond to motor-vehicle collision near Second Nations Road intersection

Overdoses overwhelming in B.C. Interior

Part two: Who’s affected by the current opioid crisis

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Kelowna cab driver charged with sexual assault

RCMP received a report May 28 alleging a taxi passenger had been sexually assaulted by a cab driver

Latest plan is to fly trapped fish by helicopter over Big Bar slide

Multi-pronged plan set in motion to freesalmon blocked by landslide in the Fraser River

Most Read