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"Without this . . there will be death"

Crossroads has been saving lives for the last 30 years, now it needs saving.

Members of the Hospital Employees Union, the BCEGU and the community, rallied in Rutland to urge the Crossroads' board and Interior Health to resolve financial issues and keep the alcohol and detox centre open.

For six years Soynia Nicolson has worked at Crossroads as a detox nurse and on Tuesday she joined her fellow employees to take a stand.

"People can talk about money and numbers  and funding and what not, but the truth of the matter is there are lives at stake. We are here today to share the importance that without this service there will be death," says Nicolson.

Death, a word that resonates with several Crossroads' clients that joined the rally. 

Seamus Small is almost finished his detox program at Crossroads and tells Castanet he doesn't know what he would have done without the service, but it is his fellow addicts that he fears for the most.

"Think how many people might die if this detox closes, over doses, suicides for men with mental health issues, and stuff like that it is just frustrating," explains Small.

The starting point of the rally was at the door of Kelowna- Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick. He told Castanet he is a big supporter of Crossroads and was deeply concerned for his constituents when he heard the centre was closing.

Letnick reached out to BC's Minister of Health Margaret McDermott on behalf of three other Okanagan MLA's to ensure she understood the severity of the situation.

"She is concerned, just like the rest of us. Especially for the patients that are there now and those yet to come. We are all watching together to see what IHA comes forward with."

Interior Health was in contract with Crossroads to provide a service for 38 beds, but when the society needed more money for its increasing costs to assist clients, IH was not able to give what was needed.

In order to keep the facility open in 2013, Crossroads required $132 per bed (38 beds) per day. Interior Health was offering $92 per bed per day.

Shannon Hopkins, the community administrator for Community Integration, says Interior Health was surprised when Crossroads came to them just over a month ago to terminate the contract.

"So now we are working with them (Crossroads) for an immediate solution and then a longer term solution, so Interior Health will be looking at options."

Hopkins says the best option is to look at the clients and see how they might best be served.

"There are other options in the community, there are out patient services and there are other services in the spectrum of substance use, so we are thankful for that. But we are looking at residential and detox options."

Crossroads is the only residential alcohol and detox centre in the Okanagan. It's doors are scheduled to be closed for good in five months.

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