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Addressing the need in the moment

Low-barrier, judgement-free treatment within 48-hours referral.

The Rapid Access Addictions Clinic (RAAC) opened in a corner of St. Paul’s Hospital in the fall of 2016, in the height of a public health crisis that was seeing our patients overdose and die in staggering numbers due to a tainted drug supply.

Now coming into its second year of being operational, the RAAC has seen a five-fold increase of patients, having served more than 1,750 patients — accounting for those registered as RAAC patients and patients from other clinics for bridging scripts and Emergency Department consults — and has connected nearly 500 people to primary care back in their own communities.

“I think that we’re unique in that we are developed with a group of addictions specialists; some services out there may be a mix of specialists who aren’t necessarily specially trained. We’re able to address the need in the moment, when someone identifies that their moment is right now, and aren’t able to wait for next week or even tomorrow,” says Clinical Nurse Leader Nancy Chow.

Promising a low-barrier, judgement-free, immediately accessed service model, the RAAC is unique in its ability to meet each individual where they’re at, offering nearly everything in one location for someone struggling with problematic substance-use: addictions-trained physicians, nurses, counsellors, social workers, and peer navigators whose lived experience makes them ideal companions to those now entering into treatment through the RAAC.

This is a wrap-around model of care that initially proved successful in Providence’s battle against the AIDS epidemic in the 1980’s and, more recently, in the support services offered at our heroin-prescription clinic, Crosstown. Part of a larger care model, the RAAC’s treatment services is a necessary component of an acute and transitional care model offered at the HUB at St. Paul’s.

Several other cities, such as Victoria, Surrey, and Kamloops, are now opening their own rapid-access clinics for those with substance use disorders with more to come.