Harm Reduction Vending Machine "Our Healthbox" Launches in Brantford

Harm Reduction Vending Machine "Our Healthbox" Launches in Brantford

Brantford, ONT. – The Brant County Health Unit (BCHU), in collaboration with SOAR Community Services(formerly St. Leonard's Community Services) and REACH Nexus, a research group housed at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions at St. Michael's Hospital, Unity Health Toronto, is proud to announce the launch of Our Healthbox, a harm reduction vending machine now located at 133 Elgin St. in Brantford.

The ‘smart’ machine, called Our Healthbox, works like a vending machine, and also provides health information and a service directory for people to find much-needed health care and supports in their community. The initiative will launch at SOAR Community Services on June 13, 2024.

This innovative project aims to provide harm reduction supplies to community members 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, significantly reducing barriers and expanding access to vital resources by giving clients a place to obtain harm reduction supplies outside of SOAR’s regular business hours. Our Healthbox will greatly benefit the Brantford-Brant community which continues to face a higher than average rate of overdoses and overdose-related deaths when compared to the rest of the province. The machine will be operational outside of regular business hours when SOAR is closed: between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Monday to Friday and 24 hours a day on weekends and statutory holidays.

Our Healthbox is another step towards ensuring the safety and well-being of at-risk community members. It will provide low barrier access to essential items such as naloxone kits, safer sex supplies, HIV self-testing kits, and other harm-reduction supplies, contributing to a safer and healthier environment for all.

This initiative aligns with broader harm reduction strategies aimed at minimizing the negative consequences of drug use while promoting dignity, respect, and compassion for all individuals.

"We are proud to be part of this collaborative effort, that we hope will have a positive impact on overdose rates in Brantford," said Kim Baker, Executive Director of Services at SOAR. "By making harm reduction supplies more accessible, we hope to save lives and improve outcomes of those in need."

The initiative launches as new HIV cases in Canada rise and the country’s opioid crisis claims the lives of 21 Canadians each day. Providing access to harm reduction and health care supplies for free to people in spaces they frequent is a strategy experts consider as key to reaching people who are underserved and who have barriers to accessing testing, harm reduction materials, treatment, care and prevention due to racism, homophobia, stigma and discrimination. 

“Everyone in Canada deserves to have what they need, when they need it, to take care of their health. But we know that this is not the case, and so we are doing everything we can to bridge that gap in ways that work for each person in their community,” said Dr. Sean B. Rourke, a scientist at MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, a world-leading research centre housed at St. Michael’s Hospital. As Director of REACH Nexus at MAP, he leads a national research and public health group working on how to make sure everyone who needs access to testing (especially those who are undiagnosed), treatment and care for HIV, Hepatitis C and other sexually transmitted and blood-borne infections (e.g., syphilis) can get what they need to stay healthy and thrive.

For more information on the Our Healthbox, go to the BCHU website at: www.bchu.org/where-to-get-help#1.

Brant County Health Unit (BCHU): The Brant County Health Unit is one of 34 health units in Ontario that serves a population of more than 136,000 people in the County of Brant and the City of Brantford. The Health Unit strives to deliver high-quality programs and services to address the unique health needs of our community and improve the health and well-being of our population. 

SOAR Community Services: SOAR Community Services (formerly St. Leonard's Community Services) is a not-for-profit organization offering help to the people in Brantford, Brant, and Haldimand for over 55 years. Today, we provide our community members with support in Employment, Housing, Justice, Addictions and Mental Health. Some of the most vulnerable people we work with need assistance in more than one – or even all - of these categories.

St. Michael's Hospital: St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto. 

Unity Health Toronto: Unity Health Toronto, comprised of Providence Healthcare, St. Joseph’s Health Centre and St. Michael’s Hospital, works to advance the health of everyone in our urban communities and beyond. Our health network serves patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care, spanning primary care, secondary community care, tertiary and quaternary care services to post-acute through rehabilitation, palliative care and long-term care, while investing in world-class research and education. For more information, visit www.unityhealth.to

MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions is Canada's largest research centre focused on health equity and the social determinants of health. Internationally recognized for groundbreaking science and innovation, MAP develops and implements real-world, evidence-driven program and policy solutions that disrupt cycles of socioeconomic exclusion and poor health.

For more than 25 years, MAP has partnered with communities and policy makers across the country to take on complex issues such as homelessness, intimate partner violence, inequitable access to healthcare and the prevention of opioid-related harms. MAP’s impacts span from local to national and beyond. MAP’s vision is a healthier future for all. 

MAP is based at St. Michael’s Hospital, a fully affiliated University of Toronto teaching and research-intensive hospital and hub for care in downtown Toronto. St. Michael’s Hospital is a site of Unity Health Toronto, a hospital network serving patients, residents and clients across the full spectrum of care. It also includes St. Joseph’s Health Centre and Providence Healthcare.

Learn more at maphealth.ca

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For more information, contact:    

Meaghan Crouch, Marketing Coordinator

SOAR Community Services 

meaghan.crouch@soarcs.ca

 

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