Amalgamation of youth clinics might be a good thing

The amalgamation of three youth clinics has been met with mixed reviews. East Vancouver has recently seen Coastal Health phase out three of its youth clinics, to be replaced by a new clinic, which is located in the recently built Grandview-Woodland Community Health Centre. The centre officially opened for business on October 15. The resources from Raven Song Community Health Centre, Evergreen CHC and the Commercial Drive CHC, the three amalgamated youth clinics, are now available at this new home, the East Vancouver Youth Clinic.

“Because we are located in a more central transit area, we are able to serve our clients more effectively,” says Anna Marie D’Angelo, spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health.

The location does have its benefits, as it is located very close to bus routes, and is less than a block away from the Commercial Drive SkyTrain station.

“This new building also allows for better hours,” says D’Angelo. “We are open four days a week for three hours a day, whereas before, the clinics were open a couple of hours every other day or a few days a week at the most.” She also stresses that just because there is only one location, it doesn’t mean that they are serving the youth of the community any less. “There has been no job loss [for nurses] and no budget cuts ... this has simply been an amalgamation of the previous youth clinics into one.”

Ashley Fehr, a student at Kwantlen Polytechnic University who has used clinics in the past, believes youth clinics are important. “Young people don't necessarily feel comfortable going to their regular doctor when they [have become] sexually active,” she says, “plus youth clinics are specialized and generally provide the best options to youth.”

“On the one hand, it is great that this one clinic will be open longer hours and more days. However, younger people tend to go to youth clinics because they don't want to go to their regular doctor. Having [a variety of locations for] youth clinics is good for accessibility purposes.”

D’Angelo understands that it might be difficult for some to adjust to the new location, but is confident that with time, people will get used to the change. “Of course, there’s been a couple people who are upset because they are used to their old buildings, and nurses...we try our best to help them adjust.”

She also confirms that aside from some complaints, the process of combining the three clinics has gone fairly smoothly. “The Raven Song youth clinic actually stopped operating in June 2009, so really it has just been the amalgamation of the other two clinics ... we notified the nearby schools and community far ahead of time of this change in locations to make sure everyone was prepared.”

The Grandview-Woodland CHC is also home to a variety of other services. Some of these, listed in the press release, include “family physicians, public and community health nurses, mental health and substance use services, speech therapists [and] nutritionists” as well as “Grandview-Woodland Mental Health Team, Harm reduction services ... SAFER (Suicide Attempt Follow-up, Education and Research), Healthiest Babies Possible, Youth Pregnancy and Parenting Program, Community Link [and] Access Community Through English and Health Services Community Living.”

In the press release, Mary Ackenhusen, the Chief Operating Officer of VCH-Vancouver says, “Prior to the opening of the new Grandview-Woodland Community Health Centre, the services that are now offered here were scattered throughout the community in 13 separate facilities that were deteriorating, poorly designed and lacking sufficient space ... The relocation of these services to this single location will make it easier for clients to access the services they need and will better enable care providers to coordinate their care.”

“A clinic can only service so many people at a time,” contradicts Fehr, “they only have so many people on staff and only so much space. By amalgamating the three it isn't as though they're getting more space.”

While it would seem that there would potentially not be enough space to house all these services effectively, the new building may be able to provide ample space. The press release states that, “the new facility ... is four stories tall and covers approximately 5,570 square metres (60,000 square feet). VCH currently occupies 60 per cent of the space. Over the next 10 years, it’s expected that VCH will lease just over 80 per cent of the building to provide additional services as demand from the neighbouring community grows.”

Health Services Minister Kevin Falcon is also very enthusiastic about the new health centre and the fact that all these services are now available under one roof. “The new set-up allows a variety of program areas to work closely together, better integrating health services to benefit patients.”

While some may still have hard feelings in regards to the closing of their old youth clinics, the new building is more able to serve a wider client base. D’Angelo points out that, “the building is new so it is more appealing, and is ... better organized to provide services. It also allows us to increase capacity as far as the number of youths (under age 24) that we can provide services for.”

In terms of all of the services that the new health centre will offer, it is predicted that “350 clients will pass through the doors of the new Grandview-Woodland Community Health Centre every day, while another 200 clients will be seen by health care workers who use the new facility as their work base,” according to the press release.

“The people who work/volunteer at youth clinics are trained to deal with young people, which really is a special task in and of itself,” says Fehr. “Sometimes these clinics are the only place some youth can turn.”

For more information on the services that Vancouver Coastal Health offers, visit


- The floors are made of a very nice granite tile

-There are a bunch of pamphlets about geriatric eating plans

-One of them was increasing your caloric intake

-It basically encouraged people to add whipping cream and butter to every meal

-It made me want to be old so I had to eat whipping cream every day

- I got some free Plan B and condoms when I visited

- You can, too!

//Celina Kurz, Writer

Enjoy it? Share this on Facebook


© 2011 The Capilano Courier. phone: 604.984.4949 fax: 604.984.1787 email: