Programming Connection

Overdose Prevention Site at St. Paul’s Hospital 

St. Paul's Hospital

2019

Lessons Learned

  • Creating a welcoming and comfortable environment was an important part of establishing the OPS, and the success of the OPS is largely attributed to the peer workers who staff the site.
  • More advocacy is needed to ensure that peers are paid an appropriate wage for the work that they are doing. Making the role of peers clearer, including communicating the breadth and depth of the role and the requirements for advanced training, could assist with advocacy related to fair compensation for peer workers.
  • Earlier positive internal promotion and education (i.e., to the broader hospital employee population) related to overdose prevention and the OPS services offered at St. Paul’s would have been useful. It could be beneficial to have staff who are not directly connected to the OPS understand the importance of the site, as well as the positive impacts that it has had on the community.
  • It is important to think about future plans early, including plans for space and how to deal with weather challenges if operating outside, especially during the winter months. Having these discussions early could help to enhance communication with partners and procure needed resources and facilities earlier.
  • St. Paul’s Hospital had an internal champion for the site who advocated for its establishment with the hospital’s senior management team, which helped achieve support for the initiative. The OPS has the support of the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association and there has been no negative feedback from the surrounding community thus far. Having an internal champion and external support was important in establishing the OPS.