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Victoria hospital to house 6 beds for women and non-binary people facing substance-use challenges

Coastal Sage Healing House expected to welcome first participants early next year

Designed to be culturally and trauma-informed, a six-bed centre is set to welcome Island residents who identify as women in need of mental health and addiction treatment.

Coastal Sage Healing House at Royal Jubilee Hospital in Victoria will provide treatment for women and non-binary people with moderate-to-severe substance-use challenges, as well as concurrent social, mental and physical health needs, Nanaimo MLA Sheila Malcolmson, minister of mental health and addictions, announced Monday (Nov. 14).

She toured the facility ahead of the announcement noting it has a feeling of home and community.

“It’s got connections to nature, it’s got connections to home, it’s really designed as a healing house and that’s what it feels like it’s going to be,” she said.

“We’ve heard stories about people that work hard to get into detox or into treatment and then they find that the place isn’t a fit for them and they miss their family, they miss the feeling of home, they’re isolated at such a challenging time. So we are really determined as a government to really pile on support so that people get delivered service in a way that works for them.”

READ ALSO: Suspected overdose death of Saanich girl, 12, speaks to lack of supports, says mom

Women can stay up to 90 days based on individual care needs and access wraparound services, including clinical supports, self-care activities, support groups, outings and independent free time. The program promises continued support once a participant leaves.

The beds help fill a gap that exists in the treatment spectrum, said Victoria MLA Grace Lore, who joined the tour in her role as the parliamentary secretary responsible for gender equity.

“Given what we know about the overlap of substance use, mental health and gender-based violence, the addition of these six beds for this population is really important in achieving healing and addressing some of the root causes of addressing substance and meeting people’s mental health needs in a way that feels safe for folks,” Lore said.

As of June, B.C. had 3,272 publicly-funded addiction treatment beds for both youth and adults with 648 of them in Island Health. This is the first bed-based, addiction treatment operated by Island Health on Vancouver Island that focuses on women.

There are five beds in the province run by other agencies, three through the Comox Valley Transition Society, primarily for Indigenous women and two in Fraser Valley Health through the Elizabeth Fry Society which focuses on pregnant and parenting women, Malcolmson said.

“I would like there to be more to come and we’ll have news on that in the future.”

The centre is expected to begin accepting participants early next year.

READ ALSO: Province invests $80K in Victoria harm-reduction organization


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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

Longtime journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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