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Location for detox services facility secured in Campbell River neighbourhood

Six-bed medical detox facility to go near the North Island Hospital - Campbell River campus
This house at 731 Nicholls Road will be converted into a medical community detox service that will house six people at a time in the early stages of substance use withdrawal for the purpose of receiving care and support. Photo by Alistair Taylor/Campbell River Mirror

A medical detox services facility is coming to Campbell River but residents of the neighbourhood it is going in have expressed disapproval of the location.

Following an extensive search, Island Health has secured a location for a six-bed medical detox at 731 Nicholls Rd. near the North Island Hospital - Campbell River campus, a Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions press release issued Monday, March 11 says.

The facility will give people living with addiction challenges in the Campbell River area access to local detox services to help them in their recovery journey. Detox offers medical care and oversight in a secure environment to help and support people during the process of withdrawing from alcohol and drugs.

“When people make the brave decision to seek help for addiction challenges, often the first step is accessing detox services,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “This new detox in Campbell River is part of bringing B.C.’s Road to Recovery model to people in central and northern Vancouver Island. Through Road to Recovery, people will receive seamless services through each stage of detox, bed-based care and recovery, and outpatient treatment, and will help ensure more people can get the care they need, closer to home.”

Last week before the ministry announcement came out, the Campbell River Mirror was approached by a resident of the neighbourhood who said there was opposition to the facility going on Nicholls Road. The resident declined to go on the record.

This new health-care service is expected to open in fall 2024 and will be the first Island Health community-based medical detox north of Nanaimo.

“We know that medically supported detox is often the first step in a journey toward treatment and recovery,” said Leah Hollins, board chair, Island Health. “The lack of a medical detox service in the region has long been recognized and Island Health is pleased to have secured a suitable location to deliver this important service.”

The new detox facility is an important part of the province’s expansion of the Road to Recovery initiative, a made-in-B.C. model that will provide a seamless continuum of addictions care, such as withdrawal management (detox), bed-based and outpatient treatment services, and aftercare, the ministry release says. Once fully implemented, clients will access care through centralized access points, receive same-day clinical assessments and care, and be matched to the right service for their needs, as well as connections to ongoing health and social supports.

“The ongoing substance-use crisis is having a devastating impact on people affected by substance use, their families and loved ones, and the broader community, including Campbell River,” said Dr. Charmaine Enns, Island Health medical health officer, North Island. “A locally available detox is a crucial part of a broader substance-use continuum of services aimed at keeping people alive and engaging them in further treatments and supports.”

Key features of the Campbell River medical detox include:

* staff on site 24/7, 365 days of the year;

* physician and nursing oversight and care;

* scheduled and planned admissions based on clinical assessment;

* short stays averaging three to 10 days followed by seamless transitions and co-ordinated transfers to other supports in the community or at home; and

* transportation to and from the detox service if required.

“When someone reaches out for help, they need to be met with immediate, compassionate and effective support, not left waiting for services,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for Campbell River. “With this new detox facility here in Campbell River, more people in central and northern Vancouver Island can get connected to care as they find their path to health and wellness.”

Many individuals undergoing detox do not need to be admitted to a hospital. However, they do need support and medical supervision during the initial stages. The new detox is based on the successful Clearview Detox Centre model in Nanaimo, which has been operating since 2009 in a community-based model in a residential neighbourhood.

The Road to Recovery initiative is a key element of the government’s work to expand treatment options for people living with mental-health and addiction challenges, and address the toxic-drug crisis in B.C. Through Budgets 2023 and 2024, the government has committed to expanding the initiative throughout B.C.