Cartoon by George Longley
For at least the last three years, the opioid crisis has been spreading across our province.
Like ink running on a wet piece of paper, the drugs have oozed into communities across Ontario, disrupting, ruining and taking lives.
So, when something comes along that can potentially turn the tide on such a horrible situation, it needs to be applauded. The Opioid Strategy recently released by the Central East LHIN is such a document, and all of those involved need to be applauded and recognized for putting in the hours and the effort for collaborating and coming up with workable and practical ways in which to slowly turn the situation around.
In particular, the chairs of the committee, both Dr. Rosana Salvatera and Paul McGary from Pinewood Addiction Services deserve particular recognition for their efforts on chairing the working group and bringing this document to fruition.
The strategy and its 21 recommendations are a great starting point toward improving access to much needed medications, educating the public and the healthcare sector around this crisis and potential solutions, as well as ways to improve emergency departments, a much-needed solution as wait times continue to surge upward.
To that end, Lakeridge has already made some progress with the opening of its Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics, which are providing quick and accessible treatment to addicts in need.
And the results are encouraging. In Sudbury, where similar RAAM clinics are operating, the hospital saw a 63 per cent reduction in ED visits during the first 90 days of the clinic operating. Similar results were seen in Sarnia, which saw a 45 per cent reduction in ED visits.
With that said, all of these items should be taken seriously and considered by the LHIN and perhaps the province moving forward, and the LHIN Board would be smart to keep the momentum going and approve a plan to implement these recommendations when options come back this June.