Downtown eastside health workers standing against wall

DTES residents take pride in their neighbourhood and feel the area has a strong sense of community and cultural heritage. They also describe their neighbours as accepting and having empathy for people with addictions and complex health issues.

We have jobs for health-care professionals who are interested in contributing to improved health outcomes and quality of life for people with complex needs living in the Downtown Eastside.

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Work in the Downtown Eastside

Community Health Centres

Three clinics serving the Downotown Eastside:

  • Downtown Community Health Centre
  • Heatley Community Health Centre
  • Pender Community Health Centre

Community health centres offer clinic services, referral services, support groups, therapy and ambulatory nutrition care, and a full range of addiction and mental health services, which are free for those living in the DTES area.

Each clinic is staffed with Integrated Care Teams (ICTs) to care for people who experience barriers accessing services, have no primary care provider and are challenged by complex health concerns (including psycho-social, physical, mental health and addiction co-morbidities). 

Each ICT provides care on-site and via outreach, with nurses, social workers, counsellors, peer specialists, community liaison workers, family physicians, nurse practitioners, and psychiatrists. ICTs are supported on-site by more specialized care providers: wound care clinicians, palliative care nurses, occupational therapists, dieticians, and many other disciplines.

Downtown Eastside Connections Clinic sign

Downtown Eastside Connections clinic

Downtown Eastside (DTES) Connections is a low-barrier addictions clinic serving those with opioid use disorder who may find barriers using other addictions services. Located at 429 Alexander Street, Connections offers a welcoming environment with rapid access to oral opioid agonist treatments and connections to other health services including Primary Care, Mental health services, and substance use programs. It provides harm reduction, and substance use treatment using a framework that includes trauma-informed practice and cultural safety specifically for Indigenous people.

Insite – Supervised Safe Injection Site

Opened in 2003, Insite was the first sanctioned supervised drug injection site in North America. Operating in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health, the Insite Supervised Injection Facility is a clean and safe environment for users to consume illicit drugs.

Part of a continuum of services for people with chronic drug addiction, Insite was designed to be accessible to injection drug users who are not well connected to health care services and for people with addiction, mental illness and/or HIV/AIDS. About half of the people who use InSite are marginalized, which means they are homeless or living in shelters and/or have significant mental health challenges.

Through Insite, clients develop trusting relationships with our health care and social workers, making them more likely to pursue withdrawal management (detox), addiction counseling and other addiction treatment services. It is the first rung on the ladder from chronic drug addiction to possible recovery; from being ill to becoming well.

Service users receive:

  • Clean equipment for drug consumption – needles, water, cookers, filters and tourniquets – to reduce the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and Hepatitis C as well as bacteria
  • Spectrometer testing of drug contents
  • Immediate response in the event of an overdose
  • Clinical care – wound management, vaccinations, etc.
  • Connections to addiction, healthcare and community services

The staff and peers at Insite create respectful, tolerant relationships with individuals who are chronically marginalized and resistant to health care.

Insite Safe Injection Site exterior

Exterior shot of Insite Safe Injection Site

Intensive Case Management (ICM) Teams

The Inner-City Intensive Case Management (ICM) Teams are part of Vancouver Coastal Health’s outreach service model. These multidisciplinary teams offer health services and support to people living in the Downtown Eastside who may not have a fixed address or have difficulty accessing existing services due to a variety of health-related reasons including unstable psychosocial issues.

The teams serve clients with complex care needs who frequently use Emergency Departments and in-patient services at hospitals. The Intensive Case Management teams meet clients where they are at, and support shelters and housing providers to assist individuals with physical and/or mental health issues. The teams are comprised of social workers, nurses, nurse practitioners, and health care workers with access to other clinical resources as required.

Health care professionals talking to a client

Intensive Health and Outreach Team (IHOT)

IHOT is a low-barrier, intensive outreach bridging service.  IHOT’s primary goal is to support and bridge clients who are unhoused, sheltered and newly housed to health care services, including primary care, mental health and substance use services.  IHOT will continue to act as a bridging team while expanding its capacity to support individuals across the City and provide enhanced clinical outreach services, with a specific focus on episodic nursing and physician care.

As the team works with their clients to provide stabilization and episodic care, the goal will be to bridge clients who are ready and capable to a longitudinal care team.

IHOT is currently undergoing an expansion, with two key areas of focus:

  • IHOT Expansion: Expansion of the multi-disciplinary team to be able to provide a broader scope of wrap-around supports including counselling, cultural supports, more nursing and physician care, and a broader geographic reach.  IHOT will continue to bridge clients to longitudinal health care teams whilst providing episodic care and clinical outreach to those facing significant barriers.  The team will be staffed with social workers, community liaison workers, nurses, peers, nurse practitioners and physicians.  The work is currently focused on the Inner City of Vancouver.
  • Moderate Crisis De-escalation Service: This is a brand new service for VCH and is still under development.  The goal is to provide a responsive, trauma-informed, health-forward (non-police) crisis response to individuals experiencing or nearing a mental health and/or substance use crisis.  This service primarily serves the inner city of Vancouver.

Mental Health Services

VCH offers a wide array of multidisciplinary services, activities, resources, and health care professions to adults and older adults in a variety of settings including outpatient, inpatient, and in the home. Clients are mainly Inner-City residents (housed and unhoused) with chronic mental health issues with complex needs and trauma.

STOP HIV Outreach Team & Overdose Outreach Teams

STOP HIV Outreach Team

The STOP Outreach Team is an interdisciplinary team of nurses, nurse educators, outreach workers, social workers, administrative support workers and peers all working with the support of a physician. The team’s mandate is to expand low-barrier HIV testing services and to improve engagement in HIV treatment, care and support for some of the most marginalized people in Vancouver. The team uses a holistic model of care, which includes a person’s physical, mental and social needs.

Overdose Outreach Team

Our team of outreach and social workers and peer support specialists provide connections for people who have recently experienced an opioid overdose and/or are at high risk for an opioid overdose to substance use care and support such as primary care, prevention education, detox and treatment and accessing Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT).

Why join Vancouver Coastal Health?

  • Comprehensive health and dental plan
  • Employer-paid training and education
  • Award-winning staff recognition programs
Conrad So, Primary Care Nurse

Meet the team

"We are able to develop a deeper relationship with patients and get to know them as a person, something that is harder to do in a fast-paced acute care setting.”

Conrad So, Registered Nurse, Downtown Community Health Centre

Meet Conrad

How to apply

External applicant

Internal applicant

Out-of-province or international applicant