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Centretown Community Health Centre receives funding increase

Ottawa centre to expand facilities, programming

From left: Chantale LeClerc, Wilbert Keon, Yasir Naqvi, Jeff Morrison, Simone Thibault and David Chernushenko celebrate the Dec 16 announcement of increased funding for the Centretown CHC. Credit: Emilie Sartoretto

With a catchment area that includes Centretown, the Glebe and Old Ottawa South, the Centretown Community Health Centre (CCHC) provides primary care and vital services to an incredibly diverse urban population, one whose needs and demographics change each year. This ever-changing, ever-expanding downtown population has left the centre stretched at the seams in its quest to accommodate as many people as possible and connect them with the vital services they need. But all of that is about to change.

On Dec 16, Ottawa Centre MPP Yasir Naqvi announced that the CCHC is to receive not only capital funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, but also a $150,000 annual increase to its operating budget from the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN). The funding will allow the centre to secure an additional 5,000 square feet of space in an adjacent building, relieving some of the pressure on its current facilities and opening up more space for patients.

“This was about two to three years in the works,” says Jeff Morrison, president of the CCHC board. “In the 10 years that we’ve been at this space [at 420 Cooper St] the demands on our services have grown astronomically.” This, coupled with the fact that its lease is set to expire in 2014, spurred the centre to action in search of a permanent solution. The CCHC team approached both the province and the Champlain LHIN with their funding requirements.

“We certainly recognized the need for a bigger space to accommodate more growth and services, not only for today but going into the future,” says Chantale LeClerc, CEO of Champlain LHIN. When space became available in the adjacent building on Cooper Street, the solution fell into place. Part of the funding the centre received will go toward renovating that space to house its administrative functions.

“Why we were happy to provide the additional operating funds is because they will be able to serve more people,” LeClerc says. The LHIN anticipates that the renovations and expansion will allow the CCHC to serve 440 new patients in primary care alone and more than 60 others through its mental health services. Nearly 100 more people will have access to addiction services.

The funding will also allow for more than 1,000 more visits for children through the Early Years services, more than 1,500 more encounters through the CCHC’s Health Promotion services and an additional 300 hours of health education programming. “So for $150,000 they’re getting all of that, and that’s because they’ll be able to make better use of the space that they have,” LeClerc says.

The centre hopes to develop more programs, including at-home care for seniors, a downtown population that has grown in recent years. Also being considered is an expansion of the successful Gay Zone Gaie program.

The space that is freed up by the acquisition of the new building will be transformed into more patient-care facilities. The existing patient-care areas will also be renovated. “That will mean two things, really,” Morrison says. “It will mean better care in the space we already have and more care in the space we’ll be taking over.” He anticipates the project will take about three years from start to finish and the CCHC will remain open during this time.

“The centre will never shut down; the doors will always be open,” he says. “There may be some disruption at times when things are being moved or things are being worked on, but at no point will we ever close the doors.”