SHA announces Managed Alcohol Program for La Loche amid COVID-19 outbreak

Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) CEO Scott Livingstone has announced further community support for the La Loche area, which includes the Managed Alcohol Program.

Livingstone said the program is aimed at helping those with alcohol addictions in that community. The SHA said the program will be in place to support those who require alcohol addictions support at a time when alcohol for sale in the community is removed as part of the efforts to eliminate the transmission of COVID-19.  

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Livingstone said work within the community and community leaders across the northwest brought forth the decision to close liquor stores, so the response for this program was required quickly.

“It is a program that supports those folks that are having chronic dependencies,” said Livingstone.

“The program is in place to help support them through this change where they don’t have ready access. The outcomes of going into withdrawals can be much more severe than managing them with alcohol programming including counselling,” he added.

The SHA also said identifying participants for the program will be done through referrals from various sources in the community, such as community leaders, local physicians and nurse practitioners as they determine what types of supports are needed.

Livingstone said the program has just started and they have done some identification of individuals across the community. A similar program is currently running in Saskatoon through the Lighthouse with the support of the SHA. 

Derek Miller, Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) lead, said the program will be an important part of ensuring they minimize potential harm related to alcohol.

“This was ramped up very quickly in response to this to change the situation on the ground [in La Loche],” said Miller.

To date, the province has had 573 cases of COVID-19. Of those, 11 are currently in hospital care, 374 have recovered and six have died.

Of the 573 cases, 202 are in the far north and 105 are in northern Saskatchewan. Currently 193 cases are considered active.

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