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“Historic” supervised drug consumption site opens in Edmonton

By Admin User on April 23, 2018

Alberta’s capital opens its first two safe injection sites, including North America’s first hospital-based location.

On April 2, the Royal Alexandra Hospital opened a 24/7 safe consumption service for patients, becoming the first hospital in North America to provide this service.


“We are going to fight to save every single life that we can. That, quite simply, is what great hospitals do,” states Dr. Kathryn Dong, director of Addiction Recovery Community Health Program (ARCH).


The Royal Alexandra staff will monitor patients and provide medical care to individuals who choose to inject illegal drugs on-site. Dr. Dong expects “20 patients [to] be eligible for access to these services per day.”

Dr. Dong and her staff will continue to work closely with the Minister of Health, Sarah Hoffman. Hoffman led a press conference on March 27, indicating the hospital will provide additional services for individuals who use the injection sites.

“Patients will also be connected to additional care and support from ARCH, if they are ready. The ARCH team includes a nurse, a social worker, a counsellor, and peer support workers,” says Hoffman.



In 2017, 562 individuals in Alberta died of drug overdoses involving fentanyl, while 687 people died from accidental opioid poisoning. Edmonton’s Inner City neighborhoods were the most common locations of these deaths in the capital region.

“For people and families who are facing life-threatening struggles with substance abuse [and those] who felt ashamed and stigmatized and afraid to reach out for help, we want you to know that we have your back,” states Hoffman.

Ten days prior to the hospital’s safe consumption site’s opening, Boyle Street Community Services became the first supervised site in Edmonton.

Boyle Street has seen 174 unique visitors since opening its doors on March 23; visitors must be at least 16 years old.

“Opening safe consumption sites is something we’ve needed for a very long time in this city,” says Marliss Taylor, program manager at Boyle Street Community Services.


“Boyle Street is a place of respect. It is a place where we hope to offer people safety and a place to think, as well as making options available to individuals,” continues Taylor.

Options include healthcare and substance abuse programs.



VIDEO: Marliss Taylor explains the safe injection process at Boyle Street.

Boyle Street has saved three individuals from overdosing since opening last month. While the results are “encouraging,” Taylor admits “there is a lot more work to do moving forward.”

“We need to look at other ways to help people use substances in a safe way and make sites accessible to individuals. More locations will certainly help,” furthers Taylor.

Two more supervised safe consumption sites will be opening in Edmonton in the coming weeks:

  • George Spady Centre (10015 105A Avenue)
  • Boyle McCauley Health Centre (10628 96 Street)

Alberta has not released an official opening date for either location.

In October 2017, Health Canada approved six consumption sites in Alberta. This includes four in Edmonton, one in Calgary and one in Lethbridge.

Additionally, Alberta has conducted assessments in Red Deer, Fort McMurray, Medicine Hat, Grande Prairie and Edson. No additional information has been released on these assessments.



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