BC adding more beds for substance-use treatment, recovery services in Fraser Health

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SURREY, BC: Through the Provincial Health Services Authority, the B.C. government is adding 10 new specialized addiction-treatment beds for adults who need help with severe substance-use dependency and mild to moderate mental-health challenges.

Opening immediately at Phoenix Society in Surrey, these beds will offer specialized care to adults from throughout the province, including those involved in the criminal justice system. They complement regional treatment beds and provide another step for those who need more intense services and supports. Acknowledging the disproportionate effects of substance use, this service will also prioritize the needs of Indigenous Peoples.

These new and expanded services are part of the $132-million investment over the next three years for treatment and recovery services through Budget 2021’s historic $500-million investment in mental health and addictions care.

“Our health-care system is undergoing a historic expansion of substance-use treatment and recovery services,” said Sheila Malcolmson, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. “When a person living with addictions is ready to take a step toward recovery, we want to help. That’s why the new substance-use beds in Surrey, along with Fraser Health’s new addictions medicine teams and virtual clinic, are so critical. People in British Columbia will have access when and where they need it – be it in a hospital emergency room, an urgent primary care centre or a shelter.”

“Every day in our province, people are overdosing. We’re losing our friends, our relatives, our colleagues and our neighbours,” said Susan Wannamaker, executive vice-president, clinical service delivery, Provincial Health Services Authority. “Having the resources available for people when they are ready to receive help is so important. This investment in new addiction-treatment beds expands our capacity to do just that and will benefit people from across B.C. Thank you to our partners in government, in the regional health authorities and in the community for your commitment to providing the best possible care for people who are working to overcome their addiction.”

These new beds are an expansion of the 30 provincial beds created in 2017. People accessing these beds will receive client-centred, evidence-based treatment that is focused on trauma-informed and culturally safe care. They will also receive aftercare support for one year after discharge.

In addition, people with substance-use challenges in the Fraser Health region will have access to new and expanded regional services, including expansion of the virtual health clinic, the new Addictions Medicine Consult Team (AMCT) at Burnaby Hospital and enhancements to existing AMCTs at the Royal Columbian and Surrey hospitals.

Addiction Medicine Consult Teams offer constant addiction medicine expertise to any hospital-based patients that need it. The introduction of a new AMCT in Burnaby Hospital will fill a gap in care for patients that have substance-use challenges and will ensure a continuum of care beyond in-patient services. The team will make sure people are connected to ongoing services at discharge, including outpatient clinics and access to medication-assisted treatment.

Existing AMCT at Surrey Memorial Hospital and Royal Columbian Hospital will expand to include one new social worker on each team. These new positions will play a pivotal role in helping people transition safely to services in the community.

Hospitals, as well as other sites such as shelters, community clinics and isolation centres that do not have access to an AMCT, will benefit from the expansion of the Virtual Health Addictions Clinic (VHAC). VHAC uses virtual technology to provide addictions medicine consultations to more people where they are and when they need it. VHAC opened in March 2020 and quickly reached capacity due to high demand for virtual services. This expansion will allow VHAC to offer services to more locations and further reduce barriers that prevent people from getting the help they need.