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Mobile Health Unit coming to Gold River

Program will be based on Campbell River’s MOUHSS, but tailored to fit Gold River’s needs
Ray Goodwin (l-r), Leanne McIntee, Tracy Armstrong and Grady Stotz with the Mobile Outreach Unit for Health and Support Services (MOUHSS) bus at Willow Point in Campbell River on July 13, 2021. Photo by Sean Feagan / Campbell River Mirror.

Gold Riverites will have access to mobile health, mental health and harm reduction services in the new year, thanks to a new program set up by Kwakiutl District Council Health.

The program will be very similar to KDC Health’s Mobile Outreach Unit for Health and Support Services (MOUHSS) van in Campbell River, which was set up in 2020 and has been very successful. Funding is coming from the Strengthening Communities grant that was awarded to the SRD for various groups in the community.

RELATED: SRD secures $1 million grant to support people suffering from homelessness

“It’ll be tailored to that community,” said Leanne McIntee, who oversees the MOUHSS program in Campbell River. “You can’t take something from one community and put it in another and expect it to work, right? The folks up there are going to decide what it is that that community needs and how to best meet those needs.”

That said, a lot of the basics will be the same. The main goal is to provide basic healthcare services to people in the community who otherwise would not be able to access them, whether that is because of transportation issues like living too far away from a clinic without access to a car, or for personal reasons.

”http you look at the way the systems are set up, it’s not a system that works for most folks,” McIntee said. “A lot of systems are traumatizing for people. Going to a brick and mortar building is not easy for a lot of folks. Being able to bring services to people is a lot less traumatizing for folks who want to access that service, but don’t feel comfortable with going into a building.”

The vehicle will be operated one or two days a week to start, with the possibility of increasing depending on the community need. It will also host specialized services from time to time, including a hearing unit and a sexual assault response team.

“Mainly it’ll be a mirror of having harm reduction supplies, the ability to do mental health assessments and connect folks to resources within the community or in Campbell River,” she said. “That’s the other added bonus of having a sister vehicle in Campbell River is that they are able to connect with us and we can help with resources they need.”

Various groups from Gold River have come together to be involved in the project, including the First Nations in the area, Gold River residents, council, RCMP and the health unit. A few Island Health workers also have a mandate to work in the community, and this will provide them a place to do that.

“We don’t know what the community needs,” McIntee said. “We’re going to make sure that it’s consistent. Instead of putting a huge impact on workers, which we all know there’s a shortage of, we’ll do once or twice a week where we’ll be moving the vehicle around for community members to get used to it. If there’s a greater need, we’ll see what we can do from there.”

The vehicle will be a trailer towed behind a truck. McIntee expects it to be ready sometime early in the new year.

“I think a service like this is needed in any community really,” she said.

RELATED: MOUHSS provides link to mental health services, or just a place to chat

Mobile Health Unit takes to Campbell River streets

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