Penticton addictions service sees Interior Health funds pulled, asks for community support | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Penticton addictions service sees Interior Health funds pulled, asks for community support

Nanaimo Square in Penticton is pictured in this undated file photo.
Image Credit: FILE PHOTO
March 02, 2021 - 2:43 PM

A Penticton resource centre that offers addiction services is sounding alarm bells over a change they say could adversely affect its already vulnerable clientele.

Pathways Addictions Resource Centre has been given notice by Interior Health that it is taking back the three addictions contracts the centre ran for 20 years, said Daryl Meyers, executive director of Pathways.

Meyers was told at the beginning of February that as of May 31, the health authority will be transitioning all the addictions services in-house to establish a “single point of access” to develop team-based care with Interior Health clinicians. 

“The biggest change is it will no longer be community-based addiction services it will be government based. And their services will look different than what we offer here,” Meyers said.

“Number one, they’re not doing drop-in. Now, someone can come in, get connected to resources, get to a counsellor on the spot. Now they will get an appointment, go through intake, and wait up to eight to nine weeks to see anyone.”

She said the shift also means that there will only be one on one counselling and no more group sessions.

News of the change came as a surprise and she was offered assurances from Interior Health that it was not about the work being done, rather a systemic change.

That said, the change is going to put the centre in a precarious position, given that IH funding accounts for 95 per cent of its budget.

“Our plan is to stay open, and we’re looking at any options we can,” she said.

“Everyone who comes into our offices is in an extremely vulnerable position and having to transition them to IH is going to be traumatic, they don’t know what to expect, and some won't want to be transitioned. The staff here is very concerned about how it will affect the clients, not just the ones here but also future clients.”

In a statement, Interior Health said there will be no drop-in services for the clients as Interior Health works collaboratively with Pathways to transition clients from Pathways to Interior Health services.

“Substance use services offered through Interior Health have changed significantly in the last two years in the South Okanagan due to the availability of emergency response funding from the provincial government,” reads the statement from IH.

“This has significantly improved the substance use services offered directly by Interior Health. Shifting substance use counselling services into Interior Health provides the ability to support clients along the full continuum of care, distribute the resources more broadly across the South Okanagan and be more nimble in the response to (changing) client needs and evidence-based practice.”

Meyers is hoping that the services that they've been offering for decades will be protected by area residents and asks those who want to keep Pathways as it is to contact their city councillor, MLA or MP.

"We  need to fight to keep pathways in the community, it is a valuable resource," she said.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Kathy Michaels or call 250-718-0428 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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