Interior Health has announced 73 new substance use treatment beds are on their way to communities in the health region.
The addiction support, counted in beds, is part of the province’s commitment to fund 500 substance use spaces intended to support and enhance existing substance use treatment services.
“These new beds for Interior Health are part of a large provincial initiative to improve care outcomes for individuals living with substance use challenges,” said B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake.
“The beds will provide a safe and supportive environment for clients and are part of the province’s commitment to add 500 additional substance use spaces throughout B.C. by 2017.”
Of the 73 new beds, 57 will be for support recovery, providing clients a safe, substance-free setting while they await residential treatment, return from residential treatment or transition to a more stable lifestyle.
The remaining 16 beds will be for withdrawal management (detox), with 12 for adults and four for youths who are in the early stages of withdrawal from alcohol and/or other substances.
The beds will be located in several communities throughout IH, with the exact locations to be determined through a competitive procurement process. The breakdown by area is:
• Central Okanagan— nine support recovery beds and four youth withdrawal management beds
• South Okanagan—10 support recovery beds
• North Okanagan— six support recovery beds
• Thompson Cariboo—12 support recovery beds and four adult withdrawal management beds
• Kootenay Boundary—eight support recovery beds and eight adult withdrawal management beds
• East Kootenay—eight support recovery beds
• IH Wide— four support recovery beds provided by an Aboriginal organization
“Improving outcomes for mental health and substance use clients is a top priority for Interior Health,” said IH board chairman Erwin Malzer. “These additional treatment beds for both adults and youth represent a significant improvement and will help ensure appropriate levels of supports and services are available to those requiring them.”
The first round of the procurement process — for the support beds here, in the north and south Okanagan in the East Kootenay and in the Thompson Cariboo will start next week. It will cover the first 57 beds, including the four to be provided by an Aboriginal organization. IH says it expects to award contracts for those new beds this summer.
“We’re in the process of building a system to further support mental health and substance use health-care teams across Interior Health,” said IH mental health and substance use executive director David Harrhy.
IH currently has 121 substance use treatment beds and Harrhy said the addition of the 73 new beds will allow it to better provide integrated specialized care for patients who have what he called complex substance use issues.
The second round of the procurement process will be for the creation of the eight adult withdrawal management beds in the Kootenay Boundary area. A third and final round will be for the creation of the four youth withdrawal management beds.
There will be no procurement process for the four adult withdrawal management beds in the Thompson Cariboo as they will be operated by IH. The entire procurement process is expected to be complete by next spring.
IH says it is focusing its resources on five key strategies which will shift the system away from hospitals and towards care being provided in a community setting. One of the strategies is directed at improving primary and community care outcomes for mental health and substance use clients.