7 overdoses in 1 day at Okanagan homeless shelter leads IH prompt about carfentanil

Interior Health is reissuing a warning about carfentanil-tainted drugs after Kelowna overdoses

After seven overdoses were reported at a homeless shelter in Kelowna Wednesday, Interior Health is extending a warning about a spike in carfentanil-tainted drugs.

The overdoses occurred at Cornerstone, a homeless shelter located on Leon Avenue.

Danielle Cameron, heath services administration for mental health and substance use for the Okanagan, said although IH hasn’t confirmed the overdoses were because of carfentanil, it’s possible they could be linked.

A mobile safe injection site is situated downtown and was able to respond to assist the John Howard Society as the overdoses were reported all within a few hours of each other Wednesday afternoon.

“The overdoses, because they were on the Cornerstone property, were really managed using the Cornerstone response which is using Cornerstone staff and using BC Ambulances and emergency health services… through early notifications, we actually extended our overdose alert which we pushed out late last week,” Cameron said.

Last week, IH warned about a spike in carfentanil that had been found in illicit drugs, which is leading to rising overdose rates.

READ MORE: Interior Health warns of spike in carfentanil-tainted opioids

Carfentanil is certainly a suspect in the Cornerstone overdoses but it’s too soon to tell, she said. IH also doesn’t know where the drugs are coming from.

She said with the staff and Cornerstone, the overdoses were reversed.

“It supports the fact that these monitored, supervised spaces are saving lives,” she said.

“There’s a lot of emerging evidence that supervised consumption sites do save lives.”

In the middle of an overdose epidemic, trends change depending on the drug supply coming through town, Cameron said.

READ MORE: B.C. opioid overdoses still killing four people a day, health officials say

“Seven in the course of an afternoon is definitely more than we commonly see which is why we are responding with a more formal overdose alert extension and just really trying to get the message out,” she said.

Based on preliminary data provided by the BC Coroners Service, there were 19 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths across B.C. just in March where carfentanil was detected in the drugs used. Of these 19 suspected illicit drug overdose deaths, seven occurred in the IH region.

Carfentanil is a synthetic opioid normally used as a sedative for large animals. It is similar to fentanyl, but is more concentrated and can be 100 times more toxic to humans, to the point where ingesting one or two grains can be fatal.

READ MORE: Display to spark conversation about overdoses in Okanagan

Adding to the problem and making it particularly dangerous, carfentanil is not detected by fentanyl strips used to test illicit drugs.

— With files from Jodi Brak/The Observer

READ MORE: Alert issued after 12 overdoses in one B.C. city in one day

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Update: Fire extinguished in roof of Salmon Arm retirement residence

Residents being moved back to their apartments in Lakeside Manor from regional district building

Majority of North Okanagan-Shuswap school buildings in poor condition

School District #83 superintendent says facilities report can be used to apply for needed funding

Owner of popular Salmon Arm taco stand must apply to reopen

Fans of Rosa’s Taco Stand alarmed by city accepting proposals for lease of park concession

Re-elected North Okanagan-Shuswap MP plans to be more effective in second term

Mel Arnold says he learned a lot in first term, established contacts in riding and in Ottawa

Student enrolment for 2019/20 exceeds School District #83 projections

Increase attributed to more people moving into the North Okanagan-Shuswap

Raptors Bling: NBA champions receive their rings in pre-game ceremony

There are over 650 diamonds — at a weight of 14 carats — in the 14-karat yellow gold ring

Pumpkins, more than just a jack-o-lantern: UBCO chef

The festive Halloween vegetables are great for side dishes, soups and breads

Trudeau: Climate and pipeline are priorities after election

Newly re-elected Trudeau wants to build the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion quickly

Apex Volunteer Fire Brigade receives AED donation from Sheeprock Lodge Strata

The brigade is asking for more donations in order to offer medical responses

‘Find Trevor’: B.C. man’s dog leads searchers to rescue him after fall during hike

‘I’ve had lots of intelligent dogs, but Purple is in a class herself’

15 Canadian youths to sue Ottawa for not acting on climate change

They say young people will be more affected than other groups

Baldy Mountain Resort establishes fuel break to protect from future wildfires

The project was made possible thanks to funding from the FESBC

Faster response may have prevented fatal outcome at B.C. trampoline park

Coroner’s report rules Greater Victoria father Jay Greenwood’s death accidental

Most Read