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(L-R) St. Paul's Foundation Donor Peter M. Bull, Health Minister Terry Lake, John Skulsh, Member of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society, Leslie McBain, Dr. Evan Wood, Director of BC Centre on Substance Use and Sam Sullivan, MLA for Vancouver-False Creek

BC Centre on Substance Use at St. Paul’s receives $1 million gift from private donor

February 7th, 2017
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Community leaders stepping forward to pledge substantial gifts

At a press conference held earlier today, the BC government announced $5 million to support the creation of the new BC Centre on Substance Use at St. Paul’s, which is being augmented by a $1 million donation by Peter M. Bull, along with a pledge to help raise $4 million more with St. Paul’s Foundation.

“The Centre needs more resources to be as effective as possible, as soon as possible,” says Mr. Bull, president of P.M. Bull & Company and Blenheim Realty, and a director on the Providence Health Care board. “We as a community need to step in, because we can really make a difference.”

Joining in Peter M. Bull’s efforts to help raise $4 million for the BC Centre on Substance Use, among the world’s most advanced and innovative centres for substance use prevention, treatment and care, are the Mackay family, led by John and Mike Mackay, Rick Ilich and the John Volken Academy.

The BC Centre on Substance Use will be building on the model of the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS at St. Paul’s, which achieved world renown in the 1990s when it developed the first drug cocktail to curb the progression of HIV, ultimately leading to a 90 per cent reduction in new HIV/AIDS cases in the province.

The vision of the BC Centre on Substance Use is to transform addiction treatment in BC by translating research into education and evidence-based care guidance.

“The BC Centre on Substance Use is already establishing itself as a world-class research centre, and has begun developing recommendations, resources and training that will help us improve the care and treatments for people struggling with substance use issues,” said BC Health Minister Terry Lake. “This additional funding will help boost our efforts in responding to the overdose crisis but also set a course for best practice over the long term and for all addictions.”

The BC Centre on Substance Use’s core functions include continued expansion of addiction research; education and training for health professionals and others; development and dissemination of evidence-based clinical practice guidance and program standards; support for provincial health policy development; and system-level evaluation of treatment services, programs and outcomes.

Dr. Evan Wood, Director of the Urban Health Research Initiative at the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS has been appointed as the Director of the BC Centre on Substance Use. Dr. Wood has worked tirelessly for many years to make this new centre a reality.

“I know that the families and patients we work with are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from the Province to help create a focused centre with a mandate to put forward best evidence for substance-use prevention, treatment and care,” said Dr. Wood. “Through collaboration, we will demonstrate how effective a provincial response can be when science and best evidence are integrated into care.”

A world authority on addiction medicine and the author of 400 scientific papers on the subject, Dr. Wood is a professor of medicine at UBC, where he holds a Tier 1 Canada Research Chair. He is also a diplomat of the American Board of Addiction Medicine and the principal investigator of a large U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse funded research-training program.

Already at work and making a difference

As part of its early work, the BC Centre on Substance Use has already developed clinical treatment guidelines for opioid use disorder for B.C. physicians and nurse practitioners. The guidelines will come into effect in June 2017, replacing the existing methadone and buprenorphine/ naloxone (Suboxone®) guidelines developed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC.

Since Oct. 1, 2016, the BC Centre on Substance Use has hosted six training sessions throughout the province with more than 550 health-care providers on how to treat patients who are addicted to opioids. Over that period, it has also undertaken several provincial community engagement sessions with provincial groups representing people who use drugs, people in recovery and families affected by drug use and overdoses.

To lend your support to the vital and innovative work in substance use prevention, treatment and care at St. Paul’s, please give to the new BC Centre on Substance Use at St. Paul’s today.

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