West Shore opioid clinic calls for more funding


WATCH:  The first clinic to offer treatment options for opioid addiction on the West Shore opened its doors in Langford last summer. As Luisa Alvarez found out, six months later, those in charge say demand is so high that they now hope to expand their hours and the range of services they offer.

Last October, AIDS Vancouver Island dipped into their reserve funds to open the Westshore AVI Health Centre in Langford so it could cater to a neglected need in the area. As the first of its kind servicing western communities, the centre offers opioid replacement therapy.

“There is a lot of great research to show that if we replace with a safer, longer lasting form of an opioid, people are much less likely to use illicit opioids, overdose risk is much less and in general, their life improves significantly,” said Medical Director Dr.Randal Mason.

The clinic was initially only open Tuesdays and Thursdays but because the demand is so high they recently added a half day on Mondays.

” My days are now full. That’s why we expanded to another day and we expect that to continue on. We want this to be sustainable but more than sustainable, we want to be able to expand,” said Mason.

Since it opened in October, Westshore AVI Health Centre Manager Hermione Jefferis says the staff offer many services beyond the replacement therapy.

“We often provide referrals for people if they would like to go to treatment or counselling. We can support them to make housing applications or look at other aspects of their lives that they may need support with,” said Jeffris.

For the most vulnerable, the health centre is an environment free of judgment and free of charge. However, that means funding is hard to come by. Jeffris said if the centre had more money, it could reach its full potential.

“We could be offering Hepatitis C treatment, we could be offering HIV care, we could be offering, well, women checkups and STI testing. We have a great group room so we could be offering support groups and educational groups but we are limited in what we can do,” said Jeffris.



Luisa AlvarezLuisa Alvarez

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