Officials in the South Alberta blood tribe have called for assistance from the provincial government because they are facing an unprecedented opioid crisis – and now that answer has been answered.
The province announced on Thursday that the tribe would receive 2.2 million dollars in two years to help overcome patients' recovery.
Under the program, Blood Tribe paramedics will be able to transport overdose patients directly to a treatment venue where they can recover and receive resources and programs to help them get clean.
Kevin Cowen, Chief Executive of the Blood Tribe Healthcare Department, said the announcement left him "silent" and believed the program would have a significant positive impact on the community.
"It will make a huge difference for us here – like those 24-7 paramedics that provide service to people who just do not get this service," he said.
The tribe faces a crisis, as carfentanil – a synthetic opioid 100 times stronger than the fentanyl – flood reserve.
Cowan told Postmedia in November how EMS employees in the Reserve often use naloxone kits to reverse the effects of overdose before bringing patients to hospital just to release them quickly before repeating the same pattern and overdose.
"Bringing them to the hospital does not work for us, the community," he said.
Patients will have the opportunity to use the public for the Canadian transition to support the recovery and transition in society.
"We believe this was the first time in Canada, we will have EMS staff … a person, a 24-hour program, seven days a week," Cowan said.
"They'll be here to accept the calls." (Patients) will be stored for 10 to 14 days; our doctors will make a substitute for opioids like Suboxone and will work with our addictive and psychiatric health.
"We hope we can move them into a transition society."
Between October and November, there were 94 overdoses for the Reserve, 57 of which last month, and Cowan reported there were six overdoses for the Reserve in December.
Carfentanil is so powerful, a Paramedic Secretary of Blood Triumf found four overdose patients after having divided only one tablet.
Health Minister Alberta Sara Hoffman said the government is proud to give this funding to the program.
"Blood Tribe has developed a community-based solution to help alleviate the current overdose crisis," she said.
"We will continue to work with the blood tribe to ensure they have the necessary support to provide treatment and care for people affected by substance use."
The government is useful in the fight against the opioid crisis, said the head of blood tribe Roy Fox.
"Prime Minister Notty, Minister Hoffman and the Cabinet of Alberta are sincerely grateful and helpful in combating the opioid crisis that has tortured our people over the last few years," he said.
"We thank them for continuing to engage and provide additional resources for the medical center that our health council, department and council have begun.Many other departments, tribal members and others have worked together to stop this drug problem and we thank them for their courage and commitment. "
The province also announced funding for a permanently supporting residential complex in Lethbridge on Friday, which is just west of the reserve.
The $ 11 million project will provide housing for 42 people and the government will invest another $ 1.6 million to create 30 new harm reduction sites in the city "for people to stay up until they get worried," says in a statement from the province.
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