VICTORIA -- A group of approximately 10 family physicians have been assembled to develop a wraparound healthcare plan for the hotels, and now arena, that are housing homeless campers from Topaz Park and Pandora Avenue in Victoria.

The team is called the Victoria Inner City COVID Response group (V.I.C.C.R.). Its plan is to develop a framework of healthcare programs to better provide for those people entering the shelters, with the ultimate goal to end chronic homelessness.

Those wraparound services include primary care, addictions care, harm reduction services and a safe supply of prescription drugs.

“What we are trying to ensure is that we have robust and comprehensive primary, addictions and harm reduction care, as well as mental health services,” said Dr. Ashley Heaslip, family physician and member of V.I.C.C.R.

“This is so important when we’re dealing with an incredibly stressful time – like this is for so many people right now.”

That stressful time that she is referring to is a compounding crisis of COVID-19 and an overdose epidemic.

Currently, there is an extremely potent batch of drugs on the streets of Victoria. Dr. Heaslip says what medical professionals are seeing from testing is that it’s a strong drug with some novel additives added in.

It’s having unforeseen effects on some users.

“We’re seeing an increased toxicity,” said Dr. Heaslip. “It’s having this kind of wildcard effect as far as these extra additives go that we’re not aware of. It’s having very negative impacts on some users.”

It’s V.I.C.C.R.’s intention, in conjunction with the other wraparound services, to supply people with medical prescription drugs in order to keep them from seeking the potent ones on the street.

It’s all a big work in progress, with many moving parts. Dr. Heaslip can’t provide an exact timeline for when she expects all these services to be in place but hopes to see them rolled out within the next couple of weeks.