New rapid access to addictions medicine clinic to open in downtown Winnipeg with $893K funding from province

The government of Manitoba is spending about $893,000 on a new Indigenous-led rapid access to addictions medicine clinic in downtown Winnipeg, making it the third in the provincial capital.

It will offer culturally relevant and safe programming to people looking for help, with doctors, counsellors and withdrawal supports.

“I see people get turned away every single day due to lack of resources. Another clinic is going to mean more people will get in, less people will be turned away and more lives will be saved,” peer support worker Britney Easter said at a news conference on Tuesday.

“I have been in your shoes and it is hard,” she said, directing her comments to those who need care. “Some days you don’t think you’re going to make it through. I want you to know that there is support and people who care.”

The clinic will be in the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre on Higgins Avenue and will operate five days a week, with some extended hours in the late afternoons and early evenings to increase accessibility, Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Sarah Guillemard said.

Further details will be announced closer to the opening, she said.

Dr. Camisha Mayes, a rapid access to addictions medicine (RAAM) physician in Winnipeg, says people with substance use disorders need timely, targeted treatments for their problems, just as people with diabetes, asthma and other chronic conditions do when their conditions get out of hand.

“Having access to low barrier and timely health-care services is incredibly important in supporting individuals in their health-care journey. RAAM clinics are designed to do just that,” Mayes said at the news conference.

The rapid access to addictions medicine clinics turn people away daily, she said.

“The demand outweighs the supply that’s currently available in regards to the resources.… Adding another clinic was shown as a need, and hopefully this will be the beginning of many more clinics to come,” Mayes said.

When the clinic opens in spring, it will initially handle to 2,300 patient visits per year, with the potential to expand its capacity in the future, Guillemard said.

The new facility will be the seventh rapid access to addictions medicine clinic in Manitoba and the third in Winnipeg. The other clinics are in Brandon, Thompson, Portage la Prairie and Selkirk.

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