In response to the overdose epidemic, the provincial government is opening a “mobile medical unit” on the downtown eastside as of Tuesday.
Equipped with a triage area, stretchers and medical equipment, the mobile unit at 58 W. Hastings mimics an emergency room department to provide quick treatment to overdose patients.
“People that can be brought here by ambulance or maybe brought here by friends or support workers,” says Health Minister Terry Lake.
He says it’s an initiative launched through Vancouver Coastal Health.
“They had started thinking about the mobile medical unit as an obvious way to care for people on site in the downtown eastside as one of the hottest spots in terms of overdoses going on right now.”
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Dr. Eric Grafstein says doctors, nurses and addictions staff will be on hand 18 hours a day, relieving pressure on St. Paul’s hospital.
He says it’s a temporary measure.
“I guess we would have to see how long the problem lasted but we are anticipating 2-3 months but we will see, I’m hoping by then we will find another way.”
Janet Charlie, who works at the street market on the downtown eastside, lost her son Tyler to a drug overdose in August.
She wonders if the mobile medical unit may have saved her son’s life.
“Narcan, I think more people that know more about that, I think that would’ve saved him, because no one on the block knew what to do.”
The unit will cost around $10,000 a day to operate.