Primary Care Network’s street clinic has new home

Red Deer Primary Care Network’s Street Clinic has a new downtown location to better assist the homeless and those in need in the city’s downtown.

Red Deer Primary Care Network’s Street Clinic has a new downtown location to better assist the homeless and those in need in the city’s downtown.

The health clinic opened its doors a few weeks ago at 5017 49th St., on the ground level of River Valley Apartments (former Rancher’s Valley Hotel), which was recently renovated to low-cost housing.

“We’re here and we hope everyone will use it,” said Dr. Betty Cowie, network member and family doctor at Parsons Clinic.

The clinic is run in partnership with Red Deer family doctors and Alberta Health Services.

Since September 2008, the clinic had operated at the Turning Point building along side Central Alberta AIDS Network Society.

A new facility was sought as demand for service increased and program enhancements were identified.

“We only had one exam room. It wasn’t very private. You had to go through (Turning Point) to get to us. Here we’re on the street. It’s obvious. It’s more like a medical clinic. There are two exam rooms. There’s a lot more privacy for patients,” Cowie said at the grand opening of the new clinic on Wednesday.

It cost $100,000 to build the clinic. The back door is handicap accessible. Furniture was donated by the Parsons Clinic.

The clinic, working with network physicians, provide non-urgent services such as prescription renewal, lab work, wound care, treatment of minor injuries, complete health assessments and screenings, management of stable chronic diseases such as high blood pressure or diabetes, sexually transmitted infection testing, counselling and treatment, birth control counselling and medications, and links to other social services and agencies in the downtown.

The clinic has a nurse practitioner, nurse and reception staff, all part time.

Cowie said it’s hard sometimes for the homeless to access care when they don’t have Alberta Health Care cards or addresses. She said for some care, the clinic can be an option for the homeless who would otherwise have to go to the hospital emergency department.

Last year, 140 people visited the clinic, each coming to the clinic about nine times. Sixty per cent were men. The average age was 37.

The clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com