opioid support

An alarming number of drug overdoses and deaths are happening across BC. The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has taken a lead role in establishing a comprehensive Harm Reduction Program so communities like Terrace have the tools, knowledge, and resources they need to keep people safe from illicit and risky drug use.

The first methadone clinic – also known as Opioid Substitution Treatment (OST) – opened in Terrace on September 29th. Building on the success of similar clinics in British Columbia (After 40 years, Prince Rupert user goes clean), the Terrace clinic has implemented a new integrated care delivery model in a neutral location that’s intended to reduce stigma and barriers, and to maintain privacy for individuals accessing the services.   

Rai Read, Team Lead, says the goal with this model is to help people with addiction and provide them with support in other areas of their lives such as accessing medical and mental health care, booking medical appointments, receiving emotional assistance, and finding adequate housing. It’s still early days but Rai says the clinic is showing positive results.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for Terrace. The previous physician recently retired so we’ve had to think outside the box. This is a completely new model of care in Terrace to provide the best possible care for our clients. One of the most significant improvements is the use of video conferencing so doctors and patients can speak with each other from a distance. It’s cost effective, more holistic, and tailored to each client’s needs.”  

Rai says having the clinic setup this way reduces the amount of travel clients have to do, which is especially important during the winter months when road conditions are unsafe, and it means clients are less likely to turn to illicit drugs if they have access to their methadone program and other support services locally.

The team in Terrace includes (l to r): Rai Read, Dr. Brookstone, Anita Zeigler, and Jen Vendittelli

The Terrace OST team (from left to right): Rai Read, Dr. Brookstone, Anita Zeigler and Jen Vendittelli

The Terrace OST clinic works in collaboration with a team of physicians from the Alliance Clinic plus two Northern Health addiction specialists. Doctors from Vancouver visit the clinic once a month and use video conferencing each week so no client is left without support.

Dr. Alan Brookstone, Addiction Physician, says, “The Alliance Clinic Outreach Addiction Service in the community of Terrace is tremendously exciting because we are able use tools such as telemedicine in addition to visiting the community in order to bring addiction care directly to patients without their need for long-distance travel. Many suffering from dependence to opioids have never had the benefit of comprehensive addiction care. In conjunction with Northern Health, we can now focus on recovery-based approaches to treatment and help those in our care return to being independent, productive members of the community.”

The Terrace Health Unit is also a registered participant of the Take Home Naloxone Program through BCCDC. Clients can access this service via the Terrace OST clinic as well as other public health services and harm reduction supplies.

“It’s exciting to see what can be done remotely and what can be brought in to address our clients’ needs,” Rai says. “We’ve learned a lot from what other communities are doing and we’re excited to be able to offer this kind of care for the people of Terrace.” Plans for similar clinics in other communities are underway.

The Terrace OST clinic is open every Thursday afternoon. Clients can access mental health and addiction services from this same location every day from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm.  Referrals are needed, but the service is low-barrier, client-centered, and underpinned by the Psychosocial Rehabilitation framework (PSR).

To book an appointment or speak with an addiction specialist, please call 250-631-4202.

Learn more about:

Dr. Alan Brookstone is a Family Physician with over 30 years of clinical experience. His expertise in treating patients with addiction has been integral to the team in Terrace. He also has over 15 years of experience as a user of Electronic Health Records and information technology in clinical settings and is founder of CanadianEMR and Chairman and co-founder of Cientis Technologies.

Rai Read is Integrated Professional Team Lead, Northern Health. She is a BCPSLS Handler and uses the system to identify trends of patient safety events involving medication and falls that result in significant patient harm. Rai received her nursing training in the United Kingdom specializing in geriatric care before coming to Canada in 2008. She joined Northern Health (NH) in 2011.

To learn more about Mental Health and Addictions Services at NH, email Rai at rai.read@northernhealth.ca

BC PSLS Central Office would like to acknowledge Dr. Brookstone, Rai Read, the methadone treatment team in Terrace, the Alliance Clinic, and BCCDC for their support and commitment to harm reduction. Thank you for keeping patients safe!

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