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New Centre Offers Health Service To Vernon’s Homeless

by NationTalk on February 9, 20081059 Views

For Immediate Release
Feb. 8, 2008

Ministry of Health
Interior Health

VERNON – Health Minister George Abbott today officially opened a new drop-in primary health-care centre that will provide access to health care for homeless and marginalized people in Vernon.The $246,900 centre is one of several sub-projects supporting Interior Health’s new Integrated Health Networks. These health networks have received approximately $3.5 million in start-up funds from the provincial government’s Health Innovation Fund. The networks were developed to realign primary health services in the region for improved patient outcomes and reduced congestion in hospital emergency departments, and to better utilize acute care beds.

“The Downtown Primary Care Centre represents the kind of innovative community action we had hoped to stimulate when the Health Innovation Fund was first announced,” said Abbott. “The centre’s early success is a sign of our continuing progress towards improving our public health-care system.”

The centre, located at the First Nations Friendship Centre, opened its doors last November and provides services five days a week.

A bilateral agreement between the provincial government and Interior Health will ensure that matching funds are available beyond the one-year term of the Health Innovation Fund to provide continuous service until 2010.

“This centre shows how innovation and co-operation can foster positive changes and solutions that benefit the whole community,” said Tom Christensen, MLA for Okanagan-Vernon.

The project is part of an overall strategy that has been developed by the Vernon community to address the problem of homeless, street-involved and marginalized populations. There has been substantial community support for the project.

“We had a vision two years ago to develop a primary care centre that could serve urban Aboriginals, at-risk families and children as well as marginalized individuals in our community, providing a comfortable and accessible place to get care,” said Jessie Nyberg of the First Nations Friendship Centre.

The Downtown Primary Care Centre is staffed by a nurse practitioner and centre co-ordinator. It provides integrated health service in conjunction with its community partners: Interior Health Primary Care, Community Care, Mental Health, Drug and Alcohol Services, Public Health, the First Nations Friendship Centre and the North Okanagan Youth and Family Services Society.

In 2007/08, government funding for the Ministry of Health increased by $885 million, a 7.3 per cent increase over 2006/07. This included $100 million from the Health Innovation Fund to promote innovation within the health-care system. The fund was created to help health authorities to implement best practices, restructure service delivery systems and streamline the flow of information to provide the best patient care.


Media contact:

Marisa Adair
Communications Director
Ministry of Health
250 920-8500 (cell)
250 952-1887 (media line)

Shelley Nicholl
Communications Officer
Interior Health
250 862-9823
250 864-5567 (cell)

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