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By CBC News

The Providence Crosstown Clinic in Vancouver is pioneering a new step in harm reduction by enabling some of its patients to take home medical-grade heroin.

The program is the first of its kind in North America.

Dr. Scott MacDonald, the physician lead at the Providence Crosstown Clinic, said the change came about partly because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some of the patients at the clinic that had COVID-19 were forced to isolate at home or in a hotel. Staff at the clinic, supported by the health authority, were able to deliver diacetylmorphine syringes (medical-grade heroin) to the patients so they could successfully isolate for 10 to 14 days.

"Having done that and done that successfully without any problems, we were able to show and demonstrate the strict requirement of the medication to only be [administered] at the clinic was not necessary," MacDonald told guest host Bal Brach on CBC's On The Coast.