Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jul 2020
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)
Copyright: 2020 The Lethbridge Herald
Source: Lethbridge Herald (CN AB)


Like myself, I suspect many citizens of Lethbridge were alarmed by the
finding of misappropriated funds within ARCHES, and the subsequent
withdrawal of provincial funding to their supervised consumption site
(SCS). As an RN who has worked for a number of years in harm
reduction, I am reeling for our clients and their families in terms of
how this will impact them.

One thing is clear - the inappropriate management of funds within one
agency does not refute decades of empirical research behind the
effectiveness of harm-reduction interventions in mitigating
drug-related health and social issues. This financial audit was not
intended to evaluate the effectiveness of harm-reduction services
provided to people who use drugs. To conflate findings of financial
mismanagement with lack of effectiveness in harm reduction would only
further exacerbate drug-related health issues.

In Alberta, we are seeing the highest number of overdoses due to
COVID-19 impacting the flow of drug supply and drug-using patterns
(e.g. using in isolation instead of using with others). Finally, the
responsibility of funding mismanagement sits solely with the unnamed
senior executive, ARCHES' frontline and management staff deserve our
compassion and understanding as they continue to provide services in
these challenging times.

I am heartened to see that the provincial government has directed AHS
to set up a mobile SCS to ensure continuity of services to clients, and
look forward to seeing a permanent re-installation of harm-reduction

Carina Zhu, RN MPH

Instructor, University of Lethbridge
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MAP posted-by: Matt