Working together to battle the opioid crisis
Working together to battle the opioid crisis

There’s no question there is an opioid crisis in this country, but it’s not just a national problem, it’s a local problem too. In May, Waypoint participated in the Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy Stakeholder meeting; a collaboration with health care providers, police and social service partners from across the region to address opioid misuse.

The strategy meeting was an opportunity for stakeholders to begin the discussion on how best to move forward in creating a Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy.

Opioid strategy meeting
Dr. Rebecca Van Iersel (NSM LHIN), Janice Greco (SMDHU & SMAODS), Susan Lalonde Rankin (Waypoint),
& Dr. Lisa Simon (SMDHU) 

According to Dr. Lisa Simon, Associate Medical Officer of Health for the Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, opioids, both prescription and illicit, have already had a significant impact on individuals and families in Simcoe Muskoka. She added that from 2012 to 2014, there were, on average, 35 opioid deaths per year in Simcoe Muskoka, that increased to 43 deaths in 2015. With emergency visits in the region related to opioid poisoning significantly higher than the provincial rates since 2004, there is an urgent need to respond collaboratively to turn this trend around. 

The Simcoe Muskoka Opioid Strategy will build on provincial plans in a manner that’s locally relevant. The day’s objectives were to provide an overview of opioid-related harms; outline the concept of a 4-pillar strategy which includes prevention, treatment, harm reduction and enforcement; explore potential collaborative structures, building on current planning tables and communication channels; and discuss next steps moving forward.

“The day was spent brainstorming with stakeholders in education, first response, hospitals, health units, Canadian Mental Health Association, Home and Community Care, etc.,” says Lynne Duquette, Waypoint Director of Pharmacy. “It was an opportunity to hear what other organizations are doing and where gaps in the system might be, and finished with a number of groups being formed to continue to talk about how we can work together to help mitigate further harm and educate the public.”