Interior Health will not be changing its minds about pulling funding from Pathways Addictions Resource Centre.
Despite Penticton MLA Dan Ashton and South Okanagan Richard Cannings, along with other community leaders raising concerns about Interior Health’s decision, work has already started to transition addiction services in-house and away from Pathways, said Dr. Shallen Letwin, IH vice president of clinical operations.
In a press conference with Penticton media on Wednesday, Letwin confirmed that Interior Health will absorb Pathways client base.
“We are integrating our mental health and addictions services by bringing in a team that will help all facets of their (clients) journey,” Letwin said.
Meanwhile, more than $3,000 has been raised in a GoFundMe account to help keep Pathways open past June 1, when IH pulls all its funding. A Change.org petition has also been gaining signatures from people opposing IH’s decision.
Currently, there are nine counsellors and clinical staff at Pathways. None of them are being brought onto the new IH team, Letwin said. Instead, Interior Health will begin a hiring process.
The staffing of the team will ‘maintain or enhance’ the level of care currently provided by Pathways, Letwin said.
When asked how IH could handle taking on Pathways 1,000 clients, Letwin said they plan to provide the same level of care within IH’s integrated team approach. But Letwin was vague on specifics, including how easy it will be for people to access care.
“We are mindful that clients from Pathways have built relationships with the staff. We recognize trust and continuity is key.”
Pathways, which has been in Penticton for more than two decades, will have its $500,000 annual budget pulled as of May 31. They offer a continuum of care that can last years as well as a drop-in centre that allows anyone off the streets to come to see them.
Interior Health said it would not be offering a drop-in service at this time but will be accessible five days a week.
Some of that access will be at the new urgent and primary care centre opening up on Martin Street on March 31.
If an individual came to the Martin St. care centre and said they wanted to get off drugs, they would be connected with a team who would tailor a treatment plan that would suit that individual’s needs, said Letwin.
Residential treatment is not part of IH’s plan.
He also didn’t answer what the waitlist will look like for those seeking help with addictions and mental health.
“We will be monitoring the management of people’s access to care,” said Letwin.
“We are working weekly with Pathways on a transition plan, looking at the clients’ needs and how they will come and get services from Interior Health and make sure we have the staff we need to ensure a smooth transition.”
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