With Pathways Addiction Resource Centre set to officially close at the end of July, Interior Health has stated that it is ready to take on anyone who hasn’t already shifted over.
Two years after Interior Health (IH) cut its funding for Pathways, the centre announced July 7 that community support was not enough to keep running.
In the announcement, Pathways’ board chair Sherry Ure expressed concern about the loss of the centre’s services.
“We believe that the loss of Pathways will create a large gap in the substance use disorder services available in this community,” said Ure.
The announcement also encouraged people to reach out to Interior Health for help, or to other community organizations such as SOWINS, Discovery House and OneSky Community Resources.
In a response to questions from the Penticton Western News, IH stated that it is prepared to take on any individuals accessing services from Pathways with the support they need.
“Interior Health’s priority remains ensuring all individuals can access mental health substance use counselling services in Penticton and across the South Okanagan as well as connect to the wide range of other services we provide,” said IH.
Those services have expanded since cutting Pathways funding, according to Interior Health, with more substance use services across the South Okanagan.
One example provided was a 2022 trial of an addictions medicine consult service for admitted patients at Penticton Regional Hospital. That has been expanded to a full five-days-a-week program.
That program sees a dedicated addictions medicine physician work with staff at the hospital and with Interior Health’s substance use connections team to arrange care in the community if necessary after people are discharged.
According to IH, it is currently seeing 490 active clients across South Okanagan who are getting counselling or case services for substance as of July 10.
“Depending on need, clients may receive low-barrier harm reduction services, counselling readiness, counselling services, case management and other treatment services such as opioid agonist therapy, intensive treatment, day treatment or referral to bed-based services,” said IH.
The opioid agonist therapy program works through a nurse prescriber program and has 177 unique individuals across the South Okanagan, according to Interior Health. There are an additional 93 individuals who have accessed the outpatient withdrawal management program.
Interior Health said the expanded services allow treatment plans to be adjusted as needed.
People can call 310-MHSU (310-6478) to access any community mental health and substance use services in South Okanagan and a referral is not required.
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