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September 27, 2010

ACCESS Downtown opens doors

Area residents welcome one-stop health centre

ACCESS Downtown officially opened its doors at 640 Main Street today, and the early indications are the one-stop health service centre is a hit with area residents.

Hazel Quesnel-Pilon was at the centre visiting her doctor for a check-up when she decided to check out the grand opening of the new facility. A former patient of the Health Action Centre on Elgin Street for 18 years, Quesnel-Pilon said she appreciates the service offered at ACCESS Downtown.

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"I trust the doctors here," Quesnel-Pilon said, adding that she lives in the neighbourhood north of the Higgins underpass on Main Street. "They manage my health really well. There's dental service, too. My doctor reminded me today about seeing the dentist."

Quesnel-Pilon was a patient for 18 years at the Health Action Centre on Elgin Avenue, and followed the staff of that clinic to the new space at ACCESS Downtown. She was pleased to tour the new facility, which is designed to meet the health and social service needs of the downtown community.

Vernon McKee was making his first visit to ACCESS Downtown, brought in to the clinic by a family friend. He had a health check-up, picked up some medication and saw the foot-care nurse.

"Pat picks me up and drives me to my medical appointments," says McKee, a former City of Winnipeg engineering department employee, who lives downtown. "I retired a long time ago, and my family is all gone. I was 80 in July. I'm happy she got me here to the new building."

The opening of ACCESS Downtown was also greeted by Brian Bechtel, Executive Director of the Main Street Project, which runs a 24-hour crisis centre, emergency shelter and detoxification unit in Winnipeg's downtown.

"Having ACCESS Downtown's services is key for us," Bechtel said. "In April of 2011, the Main Street Project will have a 24-hour paramedic service added, which will provide round-the-clock health care for homeless people," said Bechtel. "ACCESS Downtown will be the primary care clinic for us."

Bechtel said that having ACCESS Downtown staffed by both Winnipeg Health Region medical personnel and workers with Manitoba Family Services will add critical mass to the Main Street area, helping to regenerate the downtown, while continuing to serve people living on the streets.

The official opening of the centre itself was done by Manitoba Health Minister Theresa Oswald and Family Services and Consumer Affairs Minister Gord Mackintosh.

"This facility is the latest in one-stop community health centres that bring care close to home," said Oswald. "ACCESS Downtown brings primary care, and a range of health services and social services into one location, making it easier for people to gain access to the supports they need.

"We've had positive results in the other ACCESS centres, so we are again uniting services under one roof for another neighbourhood," said Mackintosh. "These centres are an innovative way to deliver a range of health and social services to the community."

Arlene Wilgosh, WRHA President and CEO, said in a statement that the new facility was designed with patients, their families and staff in mind.

"We wanted this to be a welcoming environment as well as one that addressed the needs of patients, their families and staff," she said.

Tammy Mattern, Community Area Director with ACCESS Downtown, invited artist Sharon Cary to the front, as the provincial ministers unveiled a watercolour painting she'd done that depicted the ground-breaking of the centre's land at the corner of Main and Logan.

"This is a street scene that symbolizes what is happening downtown. ACCESS Downtown is committed to the health and well-being of the residents of downtown," said Mattern. "The staff of the centre are very happy to be in our new home, offering health and social services to our clients."

About ACCESS Downtown

ACCESS Downtown is the third ACCESS centre to open in Winnipeg. Other centres are open in River East and Transcona. There are plans to open future ACCESS Centres in the Inkster Park area and St. James.

The new 42,000 sq. ft. foot, located on the first two floors of the Winnipeg Health Region's office at the corner of Main Street and Logan Avenue, includes the following services:

  • the Health Action Centre primary care clinic

  • public health

  • home care

  • community mental health

  • midwifery

  • a healthy aging resource team

  • dental clinic operated by the Faculty of Dentistry in cooperation with WRHA

  • employment and income assistance

  • supported living

  • vocational rehabilitation

  • children's special services

  • respite coordination

  • childcare coordination

  • Winnipeg Child and Family Services

Infection Prevention and Control and accessibility elements were incorporated into the design of the ACCESS Downtown space and the building also follows LEED energy and environmental design. The space has an inviting design for clients, with historical murals of the Starland Theatre and Main Street photos to give context to the location.

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