Vancouver council raises concerns about consolidation of community health centres

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      Vancouver city council is urging the region’s health authority to maintain primary care services at a group of community health centres.

      Councillors heard from a series of speakers Wednesday (June 25) before approving a motion on the clinics from Vision Vancouver councillor Kerry Jang.

      “What we’re hearing very much from our community members is that they have to travel farther, and it’s very difficult for some people to get across town,” Jang said as he introduced the motion.

      “We would like to have people looked after and treated in their own communities, because we know medically that’s the best for them.”

      NDP MLA Adrian Dix was among the speakers who addressed council in support of the motion.

      Dix told council that Vancouver Coastal Health’s move to consolidate primary care services at the Raven Song health centre in Mount Pleasant, from centres including Evergreen in Renfrew-Collingwood, goes against Vancouver’s health city strategy to move services into neighbourhoods.

      “We as an entire community would like to engage with Vancouver Coastal Health, if they don’t think they’re meeting all their goals, in improving that service in our community, and are prepared in fact to fully participate in that,” he said.

      Julie Linkletter, the president of the Collingwood Neighbourhood House, told council that cutting services at Evergreen would be like “pulling the rug out from under the residents of the neighbourhood”.

      David Hall, the medical director for primary care at VCH, told council no program has closed yet, and that the health authority is not intending to shift services until the fall.

      “It was a difficult decision to consider consolidation, and it has been a difficult path,” he stated. “We struggled with when we would speak to the community, because we know we were making difficult decisions, and we’ve been working very hard with our physicians and our staff to have as smooth a transition as possible.”

      Hall said a review found that the complexity of clients was not meeting what the health authority was mandated to provide at the community health centres.

      Jang’s motion approved by council requests that VCH “maintain and improve primary care services” at the Evergreen, Ravensong, Pacific Spirit, South, and Pine clinics and restore services to the Mid-Main Community Health Care Centre.