MMU continues to provide critical support to overdose crisis
It’s been eight weeks since BC’s Mobile Medical Unit (MMU) was deployed to the Downtown Eastside to help support the record-breaking number of overdoses. As of February 26, more than 1,748 patient visits have been recorded and over 444 BCEHS transports to the MMU.
VCH requested the unit, which has acted as a temporary satellite emergency department since December 13, in partnership with the City of Vancouver, Providence Health Care and PHSA.
Since the MMU was deployed, paramedics have continued to transport appropriate patients to the unit and avoid having to wait at the ER so they are available for the next call sooner.
The unit is staffed with Providence Health and VCH addiction physicians, ER RN’s, and outreach workers seven days a week from 9 am to 9 pm. A Telehealth link was also recently established to assist staff working in the unit by having instant, real-time video access to the emergency physician on-call at St. Paul’s Hospital in the event a specialized acute emergency consult is required for a patient.
Getting patients on treatment
More than half of the people who visit are seeking opiate replacement therapy and counselling support including methadone or Suboxone, drugs that treat opioid addiction, a naloxone kit or are requesting a meeting with an outreach worker.
“A number of the clients who have come through the unit have been looking for support and resources to help better their individual situations,” said Afshan Nathoo, clinical nurse lead in the MMU and registered nurse with VCH.
“In addition to serving as a place to receive care for potential overdoses, the unit’s location and set up in the Downtown Eastside have helped facilitate important relationships between clients, community outreach workers as well as community supports.”
“From our perspective, the MMU helps us ensure the patients we respond to in the Downtown Eastside have an important additional option to get the immediate treatment they need,” added Joe Acker, BCEHS Director of Patient Care Delivery for Vancouver Coastal Districts.
“Our paramedics have found the MMU not only provides excellent patient care, but with its support, our ambulances are also able to return to service more quickly, so our paramedics can care for other patients.”
Mobile health care
The MMU is a high-tech, state-of-the-art mobile health facility. Since 2011, the MMU has traveled throughout BC, lending its flexible clinical space for many purposes: as a temporary location for patient to receive care while their own hospital or health care clinic undergoes renovation; as an additional medial surge treatment space for health facilities including support to mass gathering events; as the home to specialized community outreach clinics; and as a hands-on classroom for disaster and clinical training. More than 5, 000 patient visits have been recorded. The unit and team have supported more than 50 missions in BC, and trained over 1,000 clinicians and first responders across the province.
For more information about the MMU, visit bcmmu.ca or follow the MMU on Twitter: @MobileMedicalBC.
For more information about overdoses, and other VCH actions, visit the VCH overdose webpage.