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London’s safe-injection site helping the community: medical health officer

Ontario's first temporary overdose prevention site will be located at 186 King Street in London.
Ontario's first temporary overdose prevention site will be located at 186 King Street in London. Google Maps

Almost three weeks after it opened its doors, London’s Temporary Overdose Prevention Site (TOPS) at 186 King St. is making in-roads in the community.

Officials with the Middlesex London Health Unit says there were just four clients on the clinic’s first day, but the facility has seen significantly more since then. Last Tuesday, officials say TOPS helped 44 clients throughout the day.

Medical officer of health Dr. Chris Mackie tells 980 CFPL not only has the safe-injection site helped people consume drugs in a controlled environment, it’s helping others who haven’t.

READ MORE: Temporary overdose prevention site ‘beginning to have an impact’ in London

“We did have two people come in who were overdosing on fentanyl, which is a very powerful opioid,” said Mackie.

“What it does is suppress breath, so oxygen is the first step in resuscitation. It’s a really positive thing that we had this service available for these people that were using those drugs, otherwise, they could have easily found themselves dead in a back alley.”

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Mackie says given the increase in the number of people using the site every day, it shows people who inject drugs are gaining trust in the facility.

READ MORE: Ontario’s first temporary overdose prevention site opens in London

“Having people injecting in a safer and contained environment is good for keeping people alive, it’s good for neighbourhoods, there’s less needle waste on the streets, less public injecting behaviours, it’s a really good thing for everyone.”

Staff haven’t reported any incidents on site and London police haven’t reported any changes in the level of activity in the area near the facility since it opened last month.