Vancouver, BC – Residents of the Downtown Eastside (DTES) now have better access to coordinated, consistent health care with the launch of a new model of care and the opening of Heatley Community Health Centre—Vancouver Coastal Health's newest integrated health centre on the DTES. Heatley Community Health Centre brings together existing programs and services so clients get the care they need at one location. Primary care, mental health and substance use services, harm reduction and specialized care are all available on site.
"Team-based care has great potential to help more people access primary care – it can better address everyday health issues, support those with chronic disease, as well as reduce hospitalizations," says Health Minister Adrian Dix. "We know it is best to look at the health of the whole person when we are caring for those who may be facing several health issues at once, while also supporting a person's safety, housing, and food security. This health centre also emphasizes the importance of Elders and Indigenous healing in the health of our First Nations patients and the community as a whole."
"Holistic services that address all the elements of health care are critically important to helping a person struggling with mental health and addictions challenges with their healing journey" says Judy Darcy, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. "This new, culturally-inclusive health centre will offer one-stop resources close to home, so people have easier access to help when they need it."
Six Integrated Care Teams will provide clinic and outreach support at Heatley, Pender and Downtown Community Health Centres. This will help eliminate the need for clients to travel to various locations to see different health care workers. Each individual client will also work directly with one care coordinator so it's less confusing for the client to know who to go to for their health-care needs.
"This approach is crucial to engaging and retaining people in health care so they can live healthier lives," says Bonnie Wilson, Director of Inner City and Mental Health and Substance Use, Vancouver Coastal Health. "We have robust wraparound services with addictions support in a place that's open 12-hours a day and on-call after that, so when someone walks in and says "I need help," we are better positioned to provide it."
"Previously, for our most marginalized and complex clients, navigating the system was a real challenge," says Dr. Michael Norbury, Medical Director Primary Care, Vancouver Community, Vancouver Coastal Health. "In the new model, providers including peers, social workers, counsellors, nurses, psychiatrists, GP's and nurse practitioners all work together to deliver coordinated care within the client's own team." Specialized services such as wound care, palliative care, physiotherapy and occupational therapy are also available to supplement the services of the Integrated Care Teams.
Community liaison workers
Vancouver Coastal Health recognizes that health care must be delivered in a culturally sensitive environment. Heatley Community Health Centre has a designated sacred space to treat clients who are in spiritual distress. The room is warm and inviting and has the necessary venting to allow for smudging ceremonies. Heatley, Pender and Downtown Community Health Centres all have Elders as part of the primary care team.
"The inclusion and recognition of Indigenous Elders as contributing members of primary care teams has been shown to have a positive impact for clients and the whole care team," says Leslie Bonshor, Executive Advisor, Aboriginal Health, Vancouver Coastal Health. "Research shows that working with Indigenous Elders results in a significant reduction in depressive symptoms and suicide risk for primary care clients," says Bonshor. "We are honoured to be able to support the Elders in their role as members of our care teams at these clinics."
Expanding access to services for Indigenous residents and providing high quality care and integrated services for all residents of the Downtown Eastside supports the work of Vancouver Coastal Health's DTES Second Generation Strategy. Although the work is substantially complete, Vancouver Coastal Health will continue to increase connections to care and improve outcomes for clients.
Vancouver Coastal Health is responsible for the delivery of $3.3 billion in community, hospital and residential care to more than one million people in communities including Richmond, Vancouver, the North Shore, Sunshine Coast, Sea to Sky corridor, Powell River, Bella Bella and Bella Coola. VCH also provides highly specialized care and services for people throughout B.C., and is the province's hub of health care education and research.
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Vancouver Coastal Health
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