Thank you to all VCH staff and physicians

To all Vancouver Coastal Health Staff and Physicians,

It has been over a year since Provincial Health Officer Dr. Perry Kendall declared a province-wide public health emergency due to rising overdose deaths, and the crisis continues in 2017. The Vancouver Coastal Health Board of Directors remains gravely concerned about the toll this has taken on the population we serve, and we are fully supportive of interventions to address the crisis.

The Board is also extremely appreciative of the tremendous efforts of Vancouver Coastal Health staff and physicians in responding to the crisis, often going above and beyond your usual duties.
We are aware that these efforts have extended from Richmond to the most remote communities in Coastal, and have included physicians and staff working in emergency departments, addictions, harm reduction, public health, primary care and many others. We thank you for the teamwork you have demonstrated in working with many partner organizations, and for treating those with substance use disorders, and their families, with respect and compassion.

While the death toll from this crisis remains far too high, it would have been much worse without your efforts. The distribution of naloxone across the region, the opening of overdose prevention sites, the deployment of the Mobile Medical Unit in the Downtown Eastside, and the work by staff and physicians to engage new clients in addiction treatment is saving lives. As a Board, we are fully supportive of these efforts and any new, innovative strategies to respond to the crisis.

We will continue to advocate for strategies to address the underlying determinants of the crisis, including supportive housing, early childhood development, engagement of vulnerable youth, and partnership with First Nations and the First Nations Health Authority to address the higher rates of overdoses and deaths among indigenous people. Addressing the toxic, illicit supply of drugs requires a new, public health regulatory approach to psychoactive substances and we stand with you in advocating for such an approach.

As Board Chair, I want to thank each and every one of you for your heroic response to this unprecedented public health crisis.


Kip Woodward
Board Chair


  1. Jan Gazley says:

    It would be hopeful to read/hear stories of those who survived to thrive due to intervention.

  2. S says:

    As program support, my workload has seen an increase in harm reduction clients over the past 6 months to one year. Added to our reception duties, we put together and hand out pre-made bags complete with syrynges, condoms, lube, vitaminc c, alcohol swabs, etc. We also supply pipe kit bags and we now give Naloxone kits and contact CD if the client requests.
    I think it is important to recongize the first line clerical team supporting this specific population. We are the first friendly face they see when they come to our diverse clinic area. At the same reception, we may have baby immunizations, youth, chiild dental and breastfeeding clinics mixed with our harm reduction clientele. I know our services are an asset to this population however, I don’t know how comfortable they are in this type of family & child environment. We have had incident where a parent and a yourng child have come across a HR client passed out in our public washroom with a syringe in their arm. Luckily, the HR client recovered, but I don’t know about the lastling effect this may have had on the 5 year old.

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