Health authority closes drop-in centre on East Hastings

A drop-in health centre that had operated in the Downtown Eastside for almost a decade has closed.

Vancouver Coastal Health was spending around $500,000 a year to run the Health Contact Centre, located on the first floor of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Anna Marie D’Angelo, a health authority spokesperson, told the Straight that the drop-in centre shut its doors on May 3 shortly after staff members were notified.

D’Angelo said the East Hastings Street centre “was never intended to be permanent”. She added that other nearby facilities—such as Insite and the Downtown Eastside Lifeskills Centre—provide the same services.

“Because there was all these services already, it didn’t seem there was any reason to continue operations when there would be no gap in service to the clients,” D’Angelo said.

Shirley Shiagetz, a unionized staff spokesperson, told the Straight the centre helped around 100 visitors every day, providing services that included basic healthcare, life-skills advice, and washrooms.

“It’s a sad state that we’re in right now. These are the people that are the most vulnerable, that need the most help,” Shiagetz said.

“I know that times are tough and the health authorities are having to find money because of the deficits they’re suffering, but I don’t know if this is really the way to go,” she added.

Around a dozen full-time staff and 18 casual workers are affected by the closure.