First Simcoe County RAAM clinic opens in Barrie to address opioid-overdose crisis

The Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre CEO says over the last five years, the number of opioid-related overdoses has increased five-fold. Nick Westoll / File / Global News

In order to address the escalating opioid overdose crisis in the area, the first of three Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinics have opened in Barrie. The clinics are set to open in Simcoe County this summer.

The first clinic opened in Barrie on Tuesday, and will operate three days a week to provide additional services to those in the community who are impacted by opioid addiction and overdose.

“The new regional RAAM Services will make it easier for individuals and their families to get the help they need when they are ready to make a change. It is unfortunate that it has taken a nationwide opioid crisis to bring awareness to the magnitude of addiction-related problems,” said the manager of outpatient mental health and addictions services at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH), Angela McCuaig in a statement.

“But this investment will make a significant difference to individuals and families who are impacted by substance addictions.”

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The clinic in Barrie is located at 70 Wellington Street West in the city, and will operate Mondays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., Wednesdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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According to RVH president and CEO Janice Skot, the new clinics come at a time when the health centre has seen a startling spike in opioid drug overdoses. Skot says over the last five years, the number of opioid-related overdoses has increased five-fold.

She says between April 2017 and March 2018, the health centre treated 360 opioid overdoses compared to 67 in 2013-14.

“This is not a clinic we want to open, but it is a clinic we need to open,” she said in a statement.

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READ MORE: Mental health experts push for overdose prevention site as Barrie’s opioid crisis escalates

The new drop-in clinic will serve individuals 16 years of age and older who are struggling with substance use. The clinic will also provide resources to family members seeking personal support regarding a loved one’s addiction.

The RAAM clinics are a collaborative effort on behalf of the CMHA Simcoe County Branch, the CMHA Muskoka Parry Sound Branch, the North Simcoe Muskoka Local Health Integration Network and the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre.

Each clinic will be staffed with a physician, nurse practitioner, registered nurse, social worker, addictions counselor and a peer support worker, which will allow for individuals to be seen by an inter-professional team to determine individual treatment needs.

The clinics will offer various services including pharmacotherapy, counselling services, trauma-informed care and will help to connect patients to psycho-social supports within the community.

The clinic staff will also help individuals transition back to their health-care provider and help connect patients with health-care providers if they do not already have one. The clinics will offer short-term care and will refer clients to other services if appropriate.

“At these RAAM clinics, we will provide a non-judgmental safe place for people to begin their recovery journey, and we will work with their primary care provider to support their recovery goals,” said McCuaig.

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While RAAM clinics operate to help address the opioid-overdose crisis, they are different than overdose-prevention sites and do not offer the same services found at safe-injection sites.

The RAAM clinic in Barrie is now open to the public.

The second RAAM clinic in Simcoe County is scheduled to open in Orillia at 169 Front Street South later this week. The clinic in Orillia will operate Tuesdays from 9a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and Thursdays from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The third clinic is set to open in Midland in July.

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