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Somerset West Community Health Centre opens outdoor consumption, treatment service

Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) says it’s been granted an emergency exemption by Health Canada (HC) to open a temporary consumption and treatment service (CTS) in its enclosed outdoor courtyard.

The new exemption is similar to the ones that were granted to open an indoor temporary overdose prevention site in 2018, consumption and treatment service in 2019 and to open a temporary outdoor CTS during the pandemic, SWCHC said in a news release on Friday.

“Starting this morning, our neighbours can bring pre-obtained drugs to pop, snort or inject under the supervision of medical staff. The staff does not supply drugs. This temporary outdoor service will remain open until the indoor CTS can reopen. The hours of the outdoor CTS are the same as they were indoors,” reads the release.

All other programs and services at SWCHC, including all other harm reduction services, remain fully operational.

Friday’s announcement comes after staff members at the health centre experienced nausea, dizziness and headaches following two incidents where harmful fumes came from drugs that were heated inside the centre end of February, SWCHC says.

Though everyone has recovered and is fine, SWCHC has “proactively reached out to the Ministries of Labour and Health and Ottawa Public Health to inform and seek guidance.”

CTS is a health service that provides a safe and hygienic environment for drug users.

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