Community meeting

Integrated care center responds to neighborhood concerns at community meeting

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The City of Kingston hosted a community engagement meeting on Wednesday evening to address questions and concerns from neighborhoods regarding the Integrated Care Hub.

The meeting was attended by a panel of care center staff and Kingston Police representatives and was moderated by city staff, who responded to questions and concerns from community members.

At the start of the meeting, ICH official Ashley O’Brien expressed concern about engaging in such a discussion due to the important but challenging nature of her job.

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The Integrated Care Center has been instrumental in reducing overdose deaths in the Kingston area. In January 2021 alone, the ICH team reversed more overdoses than in 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined. Despite the extensive work being done, the community has complained of fires being started, discarded drug paraphernalia, loud noises and trespassing.

“We are nervous because the integrated care center means a lot to us and we really care about the people we serve. We know our neighbors have valid concerns and the work we do is really difficult,” O’Brien said during the meeting.

Many of the concerns raised at the meeting related to safety and security issues in the neighborhood, with some residents worrying about people falling in traffic, petty crime and trespassing.

According to O’Brien, ICH recently hired in-house Security Awareness and Engagement workers who are trained in de-escalation and are equipped with the support skills necessary to meet the complex needs of people accessing the ICH. ICH. These workers conduct regular patrols of the immediate area, liaise with community partners, and clean up trash and discarded drug paraphernalia.

While some community members were concerned that these workers were not evident in the area, O’Brien explained that the ICH had only recently acquired uniforms for the workers and neighbors should notice a visible presence. in the community in the near future.

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Community members who are concerned about non-emergency issues are encouraged to contact Safety and Engagement Awareness Workers at 613-329-5593 as they can attempt to provide assistance and support to anyone who appears ill or respond to any community concern.

While community safety issues were discussed in detail at the meeting, questions from service users regarding safety within the ICH seemed to fall outside the scope of the discussion, and those whose questions were not addressed were encouraged to raise their concerns with management.

The ICH leadership team was quick to point out that many of the concerns of the community are shared with staff and those who access ICH. O’Brien explained that decisions made by staff that may be unpopular in the community can be very difficult to achieve.

“When we asked someone to leave as we reversed an overdose and brought them back to life several times that week, we live with the decision to balance collective care and safety, and that when we ask that person to leave, they’re going to go camping on neighboring properties,” O’Brien explained.

“We know the neighbors are going to be upset about this. We don’t want that to happen either, because when people are camping on the other side of the fence, we live in fear that they will overdose and there will be an overdose death, and if they were here (at ICH), we could reverse that.

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ICH staff expressed hope that a dialogue could be maintained that addressed the mutual concerns of service users, staff and the wider community, and they envisioned a future in which ICH and its users would be an active component of a dynamic neighborhood.

“We recognize that you are our neighbours, that our homeless neighbors are our neighbours. A dream would be for us to co-exist together, to be sensitive to concerns that are raised, to be sensitive to the needs of the people we serve, and to provide trauma-informed solutions for everyone in this neighborhood. and part of that community,” Amanda Rogers, head of risk reduction at ICH, explained during the meeting.

ICH is taking steps to implement this vision and is currently accepting nominations for the ICH Community Liaison Committee, which can be found at www.hars.ca .

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