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Human Rights Wall of Fame gains doctors leading the local opioid fight

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The work of two emergency room doctors at Timmins and District Hospital in tackling the opioid crisis has gained them induction onto the Human Rights Wall of Fame at the library.

Doctors Louisa Marion-Bellemare (MAIR-ee-un BELL-mar) and Julie Samson pioneered in-patient treatment for opioid users, complete with services to support their recovery.

Samson says there is definite proof it’s working, preventing deaths.

“The stats for 2021 are about the same as for 2020,” she points out. “But having said that, they haven’t increased and we’ve been seeing an exponential increase since 2017.”

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Both 2020 and ‘21, there were about 75 opioid-related deaths in Timmins.

“We have stats demonstrating we’ve had over 150 to 200 patients come through our program at the hospital,” Dr. Samson adds, “and a lot of them are still within our program. So the stats are out there that it is making a difference.”

The doctors say the centrepiece of their effort – the city’s first supervised consumption site – is expected to open in the next few weeks.

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