A new program is providing free take-home naloxone (THN) kits to people living in the rural areas surrounding Mission.
Three locations have been established where kits can be picked up at no cost, but they are not located in health-care facilities or government buildings; rather, they are in local businesses.
“The project is looking at establishing novel sites in the rural and remote areas around Mission that can distribute take-home naloxone kits,” said public health nurse Judith Pellerin.
“There are lots of places within the urban areas that distribute the kits – access is pretty easy – but in the rural areas, folks out there really didn’t have anywhere to access without coming into town.”
Kits can be picked up at the Dewdney General Store, Sasquatch Crossing Eco Lodge, and the Chehalis Store and gas station.
Business owners are given a tablet that is pre-loaded with a training video. When a person comes in looking for a kit, they will be asked if they have seen the training video.
If not, they are referred to the tablet to watch a three-and-a-half-minute video on how to administer the naloxone, and then they get a kit.
Public health, through the BC Centre for Disease Control, is providing the kits free of charge for people who are eligible.
“Anybody can go into a pharmacy and purchase a kit; it doesn’t require any kind of prescription. However, for the publicly funded ones, the eligibility is if you are a person who uses substances – they’re not defined, just substances – or if you are a friend or family member of somebody who does use substances, you are eligible.
“The idea is, if you have people in your life that use substances, you may have the opportunity to witness an overdose and, therefore, we want to get a kit into that person’s hands so that they can save a life,” Pellerin said.
The government-funded project is called the Mission Rural and Remote THN Project and was made possible from a grant through the province’s Community Action Initiative.
Fraser Health, the Fraser House Society and Mission Community Services have joined forces to make the project a reality.
The project is approximately one year long and will end in late October.
Even after the program ends, the distribution sites that have been established continue, and public health will maintain them.
“If more want to come on board, more will be welcomed on board.”
Pellerin said the project was started to get the naloxone kits into the hands of people who need them, noting that overdoses are a problem everywhere.
“This affects every family in B.C. We’re just trying to break down the barriers of people talking about it. Breaking the stigma, there is no shame in it,” she said.
Pellerin called naloxone an “antidote to an opioid overdose” and stressed the importance of having the kits in rural areas.
“It takes about 20 minutes for an ambulance to get out to those areas and it takes four minutes for brain damage with no oxygen if somebody is not breathing.”
So far, public response to the program has been positive.
“I haven’t had any negative response from the community. The community has really embraced it. They seem to agree with it and think it is the right thing to do,” Pellerin said.
For more information or to see a map of distribution locations, visit towardtheheart.com.