St Vincent’s Hospital Melbourne welcomes the Victorian Government’s decision to trial a medically-supervised injecting centre in North Richmond.
With over 30 overdose deaths in the local area last year, we agree with the Government, health experts and the local Richmond community that it is time to trial a new approach.
Injecting drug users are highly marginalised and very vulnerable to poor physical and mental health. Every life is worth saving.
The evidence shows that medically-supervised injecting centres are far more than just a place to inject drugs. They provide a range of holistic health and welfare services, such as:
- Primary health care – such as wound care, immunisations or Hepatitis C treatment.
- Health promotion– such as smoking cessation, mental health or sexual health education.
- Mental health assessment and referral for support.
- Emergency care in case of overdoses and other adverse reactions.
“Critically, we believe this service will provide a unique opportunity to engage with people who use drugs and are disconnected from health care. It provides a non-judgmental environment to talk with them about things that worry them, raise their awareness about their health and when they are ready, provide a pathway to treatment” said Associate Professor Yvonne Bonomo, Head of Addiction Medicine at St Vincent’s Hospital.
“St Vincent’s delivers quality, compassionate care to people who inject drugs, in our emergency department, our clinics and our addiction medicine services. But we need new ways to reach this vulnerable and marginalised group to address their complex health needs, prevent overdose deaths and connect them with treatment services.” A/Prof Bonomo said.
Although there is now good evidence about the benefits of such services from Sydney and overseas, St Vincent’s supports a rigorously evaluated trial in Richmond.
St Vincent’s has a long history of supporting people with addictions. Australia's first medically-based clinic for alcohol disorders was established by the Sisters of Charity in Fitzroy in 1964.
As a Catholic healthcare provider, this service aligns with the value we place on the inherent dignity of every person and the priority we give to serving the most vulnerable in our society.
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