Fentanyl pills. Photo credit: Contributed

Fentanyl pills. Photo credit: Contributed

Solving the drug overdose tragedy

Interior Health chairman says problem is both medical and social

While Interior Health has adopted measures to combat the opioid overdose epidemic over the past year, still more needs to be done, says the chairman of Interior Health.

In Kelowna this year, there were 60 overdose fatalities as of August, but only three recorded in September. So far this year, the overdose fatality count is 17 in Vernon and 33 in Kamloops.

Dr. Doug Cochrane, appointed as IH board chair in September, says until the overdose fatality rate starts decreasing rather than increasing, more solutions need to be sought out.

“We’re not keeping people safe enough and that’s why the (overdose fatality) numbers keep increasing so how to change that is something we will continue to work on concurrently with what is being done elsewhere across the province and across country,” said Cochrane.

Cochrane, who was appointed as chair of the IH board by Health Minister Adrian Dix, said IH’s aggressive, multi-faceted approach has been consistent with B.C.’s public health officer declaring the opioid crisis a public health emergency and how to address it.

Related: Overdose-fighting mobile units ready to roll

“What we need to do is keep people safe, work with them when they are ready for a change and support them when they are trying to address their drug dependency,” Cochrane said.

“Our challenge is how do we keep people safe who use substances where the source of those substances are unknown, which is where the fentanyl plays into it.

“I don’t know yet where the health care system will end up on this, but I know we can’t rely on what we’ve done in the past. There are still people dying and that is a tragedy.

“The other aspect of this is surviving the experience of overdosing for some people will cause them to open a door to other defined forms of treatment, which means providing access to more treatment beds and facilities. Community support will be the next step.”

Cochrane said drug use is often related to emotional or physical pain, which is as much a social issue as it is a medical one.

“People become desperate to do whatever they can to deal with pain and that affects a vast array of socio-economic groups. That pain can come in many different forms.

“Dealing with that pain I think is where the support for individuals lies. We as a health authority and as a society have a responsibility to act for and support them.”

Watch for more from senior regional reporter Barry Gerding’s exclusive interview with the new Interior Health board chairman Dr. Doug Cochrane on the Black Press web network and sister newspapers across the Okanagan-Shuswap region.

To report a typo, email: edit@kelownacapnews.com.


@BarryGerding
barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

People are shown at a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, April 18, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
211 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health over the weekend

Currently, there are 875 active cases of the virus in the region

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. As of April 19, more than 230,000 doses have been administered across the Interior Health region. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
More than 230K doses of COVID-19 vaccine administered across Interior Health

A total of 220,216 first doses and 13,775 second doses have been given to residents across the B.C. Interior

The City of Penticton is beginning work to install gates at the 200 Block breezeway on Main Street. (Dustin Godfrey/Western News file)
Penticton breezeway closed while city installs ‘decorative’ gates

The gates, estimated to cost $20k, are being installed to prevent ‘unwanted activity’

Louise with another load of bottles for ALERT. This super volunteer helps ALERT in so many ways. (Submitted)
Meet Penticton super volunteer Louise Hivon

Louise spearheads ALERT’s recycling fundraising, collecting bottles from anyone, everywhere

Oliver
A couple more South Okanagan schools with COVID-19 exposures

Penticton Christian School adds more exposure days, Oliver Elementary new on the list

In this image from NASA, NASA’s experimental Mars helicopter Ingenuity lands on the surface of Mars Monday, April 19, 2021. The little 4-pound helicopter rose from the dusty red surface into the thin Martian air Monday, achieving the first powered, controlled flight on another planet. (NASA via AP)
VIDEO: NASA’s Mars helicopter takes flight, 1st for another planet

The $85 million helicopter demo was considered high risk, yet high reward

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
‘Do not occupy’ order lifted, residents of West Kelowna apartment allowed to return home

The building was evacuated early Sunday morning due to a strange smell

Families of two of three workers killed in a train derailment near Field, B.C., in 2019 have filed lawsuits accusing Canadian Pacific of gross negligence. The derailment sent 99 grain cars and two locomotives off the tracks. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Families of workers killed in Field train derailment allege negligence in lawsuit

Lawsuits allege the workers weren’t provided a safe work environment

Vernon Search and Rescue’s helicopter team was asked to be on standby to rescue a missing hiker in Naramata. (Air Rescue One/VSAR photo)
Lost hiker rescued in Okanagan Mountain Park

COSAR, PENSAR, and VSAR worked together to rescue a hiker in Okanagan Mountain Park

Pharmacist Barbara Violo arranges all the empty vials of the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines that she has provided to customers at the Junction Chemist which is a independent pharmacy during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto, on Monday, April 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Increased COVID-19 activity brings vaccine clinic to Enderby

Registration opens Tuesday, April 20 for May clinic for anyone over the age of 18

(New Westminster Police)
4 youth arrested after 30-person brawl in New Westminster leaves 1 seriously injured

Police are looking for witnesses who saw the incident take place

South Surrey’s Paul Cottrell, who works with the DFO, tows a grey whale out of Semiahmoo Bay Sunday. (Contributed photo)
Dead whale floating near White Rock towed to shore for necropsy

Animal has been dead since at least April 15

courts
Penticton man guilty of assaulting young boys

Bryan Lamb was found guilty of two counts of assault

Abandoned Rail Brewing Company, located at 1220 Davenport Ave. on the KVR trail, has applied to the City of Penticton for a manufacturing facility and lounge endorsement. The city will review the application in their April 20, 2021 council meeting. (City of Penticton photo)
A new brewery could be coming to the KVR trail in the South Okanagan

The patio would seat up to 113 just 10 feet from the trail

Most Read