OERC ex­its alarm ad­vo­cates

The Georgia Straight - - Health - By

TTravis Lupick

wo top of­fi­cials have left B.C.’S Over­dose Emer­gency Re­sponse Cen­tre (OERC), prompt­ing sev­eral of their col­leagues to sug­gest their departures sig­nal prob­lems within the prov­ince’s co­or­di­nated re­sponse to the over­dose epi­demic.

For the past year, Dr. Pa­tri­cia Daly served as ex­ec­u­tive lead of the OERC and Mi­randa Comp­ton was the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s di­rec­tor. Now they’ve both re­sumed full-time po­si­tions with Van­cou­ver Coastal Health (VCH).

In a phone in­ter­view, Les­lie Mcbain, an OERC com­mit­tee mem­ber and co­founder of the ad­vo­cacy group Moms Stop the Harm, said both women did an “amaz­ing” job and should have had their con­tracts re­newed.

“What does it say? I’m not sure,” she told the Ge­or­gia Straight. “But I think it’s got to be frus­tra­tion.”

In a sep­a­rate in­ter­view, Garth Mullins, an­other OERC com­mit­tee mem­ber who also works with the Van­cou­ver Area Net­work of Drug Users (VANDU), ex­pressed a sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment. “I can only read this as a vote of non­con­fi­dence in the OERC,” Mullins told the Straight.

He sug­gested the departures are symp­to­matic of larger is­sues within the or­ga­ni­za­tion and the prov­ince’s high-level re­sponse to the opi­oid epi­demic.

“This thing was launched with great fan­fare a year ago un­der the In­ci­dent Com­mand Sys­tem, a uni­ver­sal hi­er­ar­chy and blue­print for han­dling emer­gen­cies,” Mullins said. “I thought this was great. That this is what we needed to do. But then they never gave the in­ci­dent com­man­der—who, in this case, was Dr. Patty Daly—they never gave her the au­thor­ity or the re­sources to go in, act fast, and im­ple­ment.”

Daly is chief med­i­cal health of­fi­cer for VCH and Comp­ton is the re­gional health au­thor­ity’s di­rec­tor for pre­ven­tion and ad­dic­tion pro­grams. The OERC was es­tab­lished in De­cem­ber 2017, and both Daly and Comp­ton’s OERC con­tracts were writ­ten for terms of one year.

Both Mcbain and Mullins praised Daly and Comp­ton, em­pha­siz­ing that they would have liked to con­tinue work­ing un­der them.

“They did ev­ery­thing they pos­si­bly could,” Mcbain said. “Both of them know very well what is needed here, and they were just hooped. They were not given the agency or the fund­ing. Their work was not pri­or­i­tized by the Min­istry of Health.”

Daly was trav­el­ling and unavail­able for an in­ter­view. Reached by phone, Comp­ton said that their departures were planned long in ad­vance.

Pressed on whether the non­re­newals could be taken as a no-con­fi­dence vote in the OERC, Comp­ton re­sponded: “That’s not what this is. I signed up for a one-year sec­ond­ment, which started De­cem­ber 1 of last year, when we launched the cen­tre. I never en­vi­sioned it for more than a year. It was an op­por­tu­nity to work at the pro­vin­cial level and to get to know what other re­gions are do­ing and other gov­ern­ment struc­tures.”

Comp­ton em­pha­sized that both she and Daly will con­tinue with ac­tive roles in VCH’S re­sponse to the cri­sis, which killed more than 1,450 peo­ple across the prov­ince last year.

Judy Darcy, B.C.’S min­is­ter of men­tal health and ad­dic­tions, told the Straight that a smooth tran­si­tion is un­der­way. “We are look­ing for the right can­di­dates to fill their shoes right now,” she said.

Re­spond­ing to claims that the OERC’S lead­ers lacked the au­thor­ity nec­es­sary to mount an ef­fec­tive re­sponse to the over­dose epi­demic, Darcy cred­ited the team with a list of ac­com­plish­ments.

Specif­i­cally, she noted that the OERC has divvied up grants to the 20 cities worst af­fected by the cri­sis. “Com­mu­nity ac­tion teams have been re­ally crit­i­cal in get­ting all of the things we de­cided on as re­sponses hap­pen­ing on the ground,” Darcy said.

Mcbain de­scribed Daly and Comp­ton as two of B.C.’S best health pro­fes­sion­als.

“They worked tire­lessly; they worked to the point,” Mcbain said. “And I know our [fa­tal over­dose] num­bers for 2018 are go­ing to be ter­ri­ble.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.