Clinics team up during pandemic to offer same-day health care in downtown Winnipeg

On any given day, Dr. Andrew Lodge will treat a dislocated elbow, a kidney stone, a person in mental health crisis, and a COVID-19 patient struggling with symptoms.

He heads up a same-day clinic in Winnipeg run by a collection of community health care providers. Set up at the height of the pandemic, it gives immediate care to some of the city’s most in need — and most at risk.

The aim is to treat patients who might otherwise not get to see a doctor, and before they end up in the city’s already overwhelmed hospitals.

“Our goal is certainly to meet the needs of people where they’re at in the community,” Lodge said.

The clinic offers everything from primary health care like exams and referrals, testing for sexually transmitted infections and harm reduction supplies to mental health support.

It operates out of Klinic Community Health at 167 Sherbrook St., but is a group effort from members of the Manitoba Association of Community Health.

WATCH | Community health clinics in team up during the pandemic:

From broken bones to kidney stones, mental health issues and COVID-19 symptoms. Community health clinics in Winnipeg have teamed up during the pandemic. 2:24

That includes the Women’s Health Clinic, Nine Circles Community Health Centre, the Sexuality Education Resource Centre, and Manitoba Federation of Labour Health Centre.

The idea came as each clinic was struggling to provide services in November, as Winnipeg saw a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases.

Some clinics had to close down for in-person services, and others could only offer phone and video services, something that lower-income Winnipeggers might not have access to.

To make matters worse, most clinics also lost staff, who were pulled away to help with fighting the pandemic in hospitals and personal care homes.  

Klinic also saw an influx of very unwell people coming through their doors. Many had lost their usual health care supports thanks to COVID-19 closures — whether that was care for chronic physical needs, or mental health and addictions.

“COVID is a bit of a prism into all of those things that are so very, very important to a person’s health and well-being, but things that you can’t write a prescription for,” Lodge said.

Nicole Chammartin, executive director of Klinic Community Health Centre, says COVID-19 has prevented many people from accessing the help they need. (Wendy Buelow/CBC)

“I think some people would have gone without help, which really worries me,” said Nicole Chammartin, executive director of Klinic Community Health.

“We noticed immediately that people were not getting services that they needed,” Chammartin said.

So in November, the organizations pooled resources — from staff to supplies — so they had a spot in city where people could go for same-day care.

They’re also helping assess people who have COVID-19 and are struggling with their symptoms, who might otherwise end up in the emergency department.

Anyone is welcome to use the clinic, and walk-ins are accepted, although you’re asked to call ahead to book if you can, to allow for scheduling.

The clinic currently only operates on a month-to-month basis. Right now the plan is to have it open until the end of February, but organizers say they’ll continue to re-evaluate whether to keep it open.

More information can be found on Klinic’s website.

Klinic Community Health is the site of a same-day clinic that offers immediate medical care in downtown Winnipeg. Walk-ins are accepted, but people are asked to phone ahead if they can to make an appointment. (Darin Morash/CBC)

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