The Record article published September 20, 2017. Article in full pasted below.
Johanna Weidner, Waterloo Region Record
Guelph has a new rapid access addiction clinic, the first of its kind in the area.
While it officially opens Friday, the clinic has been providing treatment and support to people struggling with addiction since June.
“Regularly, the clinic exceeds capacity,” said Kristin Eidse of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community. “It just really speaks to the demand and need for this type of service in our community.”
The new clinic is a collaboration of five local agencies whose officials started talking a year ago about how to offer specialized addiction medicine to serve a vulnerable population that struggles to get the help it needs due to the stigma around addictions and the wait for care.
“It’s not something that exists in our region,” Eidse said.
Along with Stonehenge, which provides residential and community addictions treatment, the initiative was headed by the Canadian Mental Health Association, Guelph Family Health Team, Guelph Community Health Centre and Sanguen Health Centre.
The clinic is currently running without additional funding, using resources from all the agencies. They are hoping for funding, considering that the province announced $222 million last month to fight the opioid crisis, including expanding rapid access clinics across the province.
In Waterloo Region, work continues on opening two rapid access centres in Cambridge and Kitchener-Waterloo.
Rapid access clinics are unique in providing immediate help without a referral.
“People just need to walk in,” Eidse said. “It maximizes their motivation.”
The Guelph clinic is open one day a week, and services are covered by OHIP. Patients are seen by an addiction counsellor, addiction medicine physician and peer support worker — unique among the rapid access centres.
“That really increases the welcoming atmosphere of our clinic,” Eidse said.
The work of the clinic is intended to be a short-term intervention, with the average person coming back for three to four followup visits.
People are connected with an addictions counsellor and other programs and resources in the community to continue toward recovery.
“It’s a place to get started on that road,” Eidse said.
People of any age and any type of substance use can come to the clinic. Alcohol use has been most common, followed closely by opioid use. The majority are struggling with more than one substance.
During the three-month pilot, which saw 61 patients come in, the average age was 43. The youngest was 19 and the oldest was 76.
“It’s really showing substance use doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone,” Eidse said.
Waterloo Region residents are welcome, but the clinic is primarily focused on providing care to Guelph and Wellington County residents.
“We’ve had incredible feedback from the patients so far,” said Eidse, adding that the average rating is 4.7 out of five.
Patients say they appreciate the welcoming atmosphere, easy and quick access, and withdrawal support. For many who have walked through the door, it’s helped to make significant changes.
“I’ve been able to see what an amazing difference this type of clinic can make.”
Find out more at raacguelph.ca.