Two new health-care centres proposed for the Downtown Eastside amid a host of service changes on the way

published on October 19, 2016 by Travis Lupick in The Georgia Straight

During the past five years, mental-health and addiction problems have simultaneously intensified in Vancouver, and to shocking extents.

In 2015, there were 505 illicit-drug overdose deaths in B.C., more than double the number from five years earlier.

At the same time, the number of apprehensions Vancouver police made under the provincial Mental Health Act increased from 2,276 in 2010 to 4,713 in 2015.

Every level of government is bolstering programs to meet these challenges. In the Downtown Eastside, where they are most acute, Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) has gone so far as to announce not one but two new health centres for the area.

The first, scheduled to open early next year, is called Connections and will stand on Powell Street just east of Oppenheimer Park.

Dr. Evan Wood is medical director of VCH community addictions services. In a telephone interview, he said the facility will function as a one-stop shop for people seeking to overcome drug and alcohol issues, with a goal to eliminate barriers that prevent people from getting clean.

“When people are motivated, that’s when you want to be able to offer addictions services,” Wood told the Straight. “And so this clinic is meant to be very low-threshold, so people can come, without an appointment, and be seen by a health-care team focused on addiction care.”

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