For more than ten years the Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has been a sometimes controversial addition to the Sydney landscape. The conservative aspects of the ATOD sector have at best been uneasy about its existence and the more rabid groups like DFA would love it to disappear tomorrow.
The stats provided by Dr van Beek are compelling and aside from straw man arguments around their statistical veracity, it’s hard to understand why anyone would argue anything other than its retention and expansion.
There’s a discussion on the MSIC at independent news outlet Crikey.com.au
The full media release on Dr van Beek’s departure from the MSIC:
Groundbreaking founder says goodbye
It’s been a long and arduous journey for Dr Ingrid van Beek who as the medical director of Australia’s first Medically Supervised Injecting Centre (MSIC) has put her heart and soul into this ground-breaking public health initiative over the past eight years. Today, in an historic announcement, Dr van Beek announces her resignation as its inaugural Medical Director.
“It’s been a great privilege to work in a field that I have such a strong commitment and passion for. My only disappointment is that the MSIC continues to operate on a trial basis,” says Dr van Beek.
The Kings Cross service received a four-year trial extension by the NSW Government in June last year, making it a ten and a half year scientific trial.
“It’s important the MSIC is judged on its health outcomes and it is now well-established the MSIC has been effective in reducing the various drug-related harms associated with street-based injecting to both individual drug users and the greater community,” says Dr van Beek.
The statistics speak for themselves –
80 per cent of long term local Kings Cross residents and 68 per cent of local business managers support the MSIC
Over 10,000 injecting drug users have registered to use the MSIC to date
More than 200 injecting episodes occur at MSIC every day i.e. in a clinical setting where in the event of a medical emergency eg overdose, specially trained registered nurses provide prompt and effective resuscitation. These injecting episodes would have otherwise occurred in unsupervised, often public and squalid circumstances in the local environs where timely help is in the lap of the gods.
2,458 drug overdoses have been successfully treated onsite in the past seven years
Ambulance callouts to heroin overdoses in the area have decreased by 80 percent thereby freeing Ambulance services to attend other medical emergencies in the area
MSIC staff have referred drug users to other services including drug treatment and rehabilitation programs on more than 7,000 occasions to date
“One of the highlights of my time spent at the MSIC is seeing first hand staff helping drug dependent users who are often in desperate personal circumstances and leading socially isolated lives. I am humbled to know we have helped these people get their lives back on track.” says Dr van Beek.
“My one hope is that the MSIC’s trial status is revisited prior to the next State election. The MSIC’s apparently endless trial status is a barrier to its integration with the rest of the public health system affecting continuity of care, workforce development and staff morale, especially as the end of each trial period draws near. It also ensures that the service remains politicised; the work we do is too important to be subject to partisan politics,” says Dr van Beek.
Rev. Harry Herbert, Executive Director, UnitingCare NSW says without the insight, personal dedication, political acumen, tenacity and determination of Dr van Beek, the MSIC would not have succeeded as it has.
“Ingrid made the dream a reality. She played an integral part in establishing the MSIC. She has been an inspiration to the staff, clients, businesses and community members associated with the MSIC.”
“Ingrid is congratulated and should be recognised and admired for her work in preventing and reducing drug-related harm and communicable diseases amongst one of society’s most marginalised groups – injecting drug users,” says Rev Herbert.
Dr van Beek was recently inducted into the National Drug and Alcohol Awards Honour Roll for her tireless and significant contribution to the drug and alcohol field over many years. The Awards are a collaborative effort of the Ted Noffs Foundation, The Australian Drug Foundation, The Alcohol and Other Drugs Council of Australia and the Australian National Council on Drugs.
Dr van Beek is returning to her original post as the full time Director of the Kirketon Road Centre in Kings Cross. Dr Marianne Jauncey, a public health physician, will take over as the Medical Director of the MSIC in the coming weeks. Dr Jauncey started her public health career working at the clinical coalface at the nearby Kirketon Road Centre, so she is well placed to take on this important role.”