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City eyes hospitals as potential injection site location

Hamilton politicians are hopeful that one of the city's hospital, such as the General, could house a supervised injection site. .
Hamilton politicians are hopeful that one of the city's hospital, such as the General, could house a supervised injection site. . Google Street View

A Hamilton politician may have the solution to a local quandry.

Ward 2 Coun. Jason Farr is proposing that the city negotiate with Hamilton Health Sciences and St. Joseph’s Healthcare to determine if one of their hospitals could be a feasible location for a supervised injection site.

READ MORE: Hamilton police officers will carry naloxone kits amid opioid crisis

Farr notes that Hamilton General Hospital and St. Joe’s Charlton Avenue campus are both roughly within the downtown parameters set out by city council, when it voted to seek provincial approval for a consumption site last winter.

There were 75 deaths due to opioid overdoses in Hamilton from January to October 2017, a statistic that the city’s board of health has been told exceeds the provincial average by 78 percent.

READ MORE: Justin Trudeau says work to address opioids is a priority as Hamilton sees spike

Despite that, Farr notes that local landlords have been reluctant in granting permission to outside social services agencies that have offered to house supervised injection sites.

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Farr stresses that “we need to act and try to think outside the box.”

READ MORE: Hamilton’s opioid-related deaths jump nearly 80 per cent higher than provincial rate

His proposal has the backing of Mayor Fred Eisenberger who agrees that a hospital or hospital-owned facility is “the best locale for a safe injection site.”

Eisenberger adds that he hopes for good co-operation from HHS and St. Joseph’s Healthcare “so that life-saving facilities and treatment can be up and running soon.”