October 23, 2015 - 6:35 PM
PENTICTON - The Martin Street Outreach Centre has officially opened its doors.
The primary and community based care centre has been operating at 437 Martin Street since May, but had it's officially opening today, Oct. 23.
The Outreach Centre is already serving 350 clients, according to Penticton physician Dr. Kyle Stevens, who has played a major role in the centre’s operation since its inception. He hopes to eventually expand the client base to 1,000.
The Centre provides primary health care services for people suffering from mental health and substance abuse issues, who can’t or won’t access traditional services. It was formerly located in the Penticton Health Centre but moved to the Martin Street location to allow clients easier access.
The outreach centre is a collaborative effort between Interior Health and the South Okanagan Similkameen Division of Family Practice, which represents 132 doctors in the region. The centre itself is staffed by five doctors who partner to perform primary health care in the clinic.
Vice president community integrated health services for Interior Health Wendy Hansson says the clinic is “a collaborative effort benefitting those in the community most at risk, referring to the clinic’s services as “a unique model of care” with “a diverse range of services.”
The clinic offerssocial work services and intensive case management, which provides mental health and addictions counselling along with HIV care. The clinic is open Monday to Wednesday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m, and half days on Thursday and Friday.
“We hope to expand that until it’s full time. We haven’t got there yet, we’re really working on building up our physician hours," Project Manager for the South Okanagan Simiikameen Division of Family Practice Amy Woodruff says.
"Interior Health has been funding all our capital costs and 80 per cent of the operational costs, while the physicians are funding the rest of it," she says. "So the physicians have to generate enough revenue to pay for the social work services, electronic medical records, programs, those kinds of things, so that’s going to take a bit of time.”
Several political dignitaries were on hand for the open house, including newly elected MP Richard Cannings, MLA Dan Ashton and several Penticton city councillors.
“I knew they had been busy - you don’t know how much demand there is for something like this until you open,” Coun. Helena Konanz says.
“It looks like it’s getting high use," she says. "Who knows? Maybe we’ll need a second clinic at the other end of the city,” she says.
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News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015