Message from President and CEO of Quinte Health about the increase of drug poisonings in our community
Today, Stacey Daub, President and CEO, Quinte Health, joined partners (Hastings Quinte Paramedic Services, City of Belleville, Belleville Fire and Emergency Services, Hastings Prince Edward Public Health and CMHA Hastings Prince Edward) at Belleville Police Services to issue a collective ‘call to action’ in light of the increase in opioid overdoses at our hospitals, and within the community we serve.
As we come together today in the first full week of November, our remarkable, hardworking team at the Belleville General Hospital Emergency Department has already cared for 42 individuals who’ve experienced overdoses in just six days. Since April of this year, our team has responded to a 41% increase in overdoses. These aren’t faceless numbers; these are someone’s sons, daughters, brothers, and sisters.
Our teams engage with people every day with addiction issues. They are all people with unique histories and diverse journeys—many who are trying, against terrible odds, and it’s our privilege to try to help them.
It can be easy to overlook this issue and think it only affects those unfortunate souls actively caught in the darkest cycle of addiction, and consider it something that doesn’t touch our own lives or loved ones. But it’s relevant to all of us. You cannot witness this without acknowledging it as a tragedy—a human crisis.
Today is a call to action. Parents, take the time to have open conversations with your children—particularly teens and young adults. Teachers, connect with your students and educate them about the dangers of buying any unregulated street drugs. Community members, reach out to your family, friends, neighbors, and colleagues. This crisis isn’t just a statistic; it’s happening in our community, and people are losing their lives.
As community providers, we are here together as not only a show of unity in our call to action, but also to show our commitment to finding collaborative solutions. We are stronger together.
Click here to view a statement from the Medical Officer of Health in response to contaminated drugs in the region and increased drug poisonings, which includes the following guidance:
All individuals who use drugs are urged to take steps to protect themselves. Avoid mixing drugs, try a small amount first, don’t use alone, and have multiple Naloxone kits on hand. Considering the severity of the current situation, anyone who uses drugs or is with someone who is using drugs should be prepared to call for emergency response. If you must use drugs alone, you can call the National Overdose Response Service’s confidential overdose prevention hotline 24-hours-a-day at 1-888-688-6677. An operator will stay on the phone with you and will call 911 and advise of possible overdose if they do not receive a response after drugs are administered.
We recognize that using drugs is a reality for many community members and reiterate that help is available—both to reduce potential harms when using drugs, and to provide ongoing supports and treatment. On our website hpePublicHealth.ca, you can find a “getting help” page with information and links to community resources, including locations where you can access safer drug use supplies and treatment services.
A drug poisoning is a medical emergency. Anyone who suspects or witnesses a drug poisoning should call 911. The Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Act provides some legal protection against simple drug possession charges for anyone who experiences, witnesses, or responds to a drug poisoning and calls 911.
Individuals who witness a drug poisoning in the community can report the event to HPEPH, by completing our online Overdose Reporting tool. This tool is completely anonymous and information is provided to Public Health Nurses to help ensure harm reduction services are available to those who need them most.