December 11, 2023

A new facility has opened in the Downtown Eastside with the goal of helping tackle the complex challenges faced by some of those living there.

The Vancouver Urban Health Centre (VUHC) at 219 Main Street is a partnership between the Vancouver Infectious Disease Centre (VIDC), SRx Health Solutions and Atira Housing.

“Right now for many individuals, they are unable to engage in health care in a way that makes sense to them and is available to them and will meet all of their needs,” Dr. Brian Conway, medical director of VIDC and the newly-opened VUHC, told Global News.

“There’s a lot of heroic work going on in the inner city, but there are clearly gaps because we have an opioid overdose crisis that continues, we have many, many people that are disengaged from care, and this is really meant to meet that need.”

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Conway said this model works as it builds on the concept of community pop-up clinics.

People with various needs were able to come to the clinics and speak to doctors and access other supports but they were never permanent facilities, Conway explained.

The VUHC will be open Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., so people to drop in when they need to.

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Conway said many services are currently offered in the DTES, but those can often be “fragmented.”

“So this is supplementing the significant efforts that are already being made and just trying to make a good thing better.”

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Janice Abbott, the CEO of Atira Property Management Inc. and Atira Women’s Resource Society, told Global News they were approached by Conway about 18 months ago to get involved in this project.

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The VUHC means teams of health-care professionals will now be available to tenants living in Atira’s buildings.

“Our tenants are getting health care that they weren’t getting before because they were missing appointments, couldn’t get to clinics, didn’t want to sit in (waiting rooms),” she said.

“Many women don’t want to sit in waiting rooms in clinics that are all genders because they may have folks in there that have caused them harm so I think building those relationships and having those people in the buildings mean people are getting health care that weren’t getting health care before.”

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.


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