Mobile addictions service van to address transportation, anonymity issues in Wellington County

·2 min read

WELLINGTON COUNTY – A newly-announced mobile addictions services van in Wellington County aims to bridge healthcare gaps in rural areas of the county.

Stonehenge Therapeutic Community recently got $900,000 in funding from Ontario Health to enhance their addiction services.

Kristen Kerr, executive director of Stonehenge Therapeutic Community, said about a third of this is going toward a project to serve the needs of rural Wellington County residents who face substance use issues.

They are expanding their Rapid Access Addiction Clinics (RAAC), where there is only one in Wellington County, with a mobile van that can address issues with transportation, a common gap in health services in the county.

“These clinics offer specialized medical addiction services and that can be hard to access when you live in a rural community,” Kerr said.

“Sometimes it can be quite a long geographic distance to get to a clinic that is stationary. We have four existing clinics but most of them are far from Harriston for example.”

Kerr said another issue in rural areas when accessing addiction services relates to anonymity.

The thought is In a smaller community, people who are using such services can be more easily identified by other residents.

The van itself will act as a mobile medical clinic that is staffed with a nurse practitioner.

“It will be able to go to more central or accessible locations so that folks from the rural areas can more easily access the clinic,” Kerr said.

The nurse practitioner can provide medicine services, addictions counselling and referrals.

Kerr said they are working out the fine details with their rural healthcare partners such as precisely where the van will go in the county and therefore couldn’t say exactly where it will be making stops.

Some of the funding is also going toward enhancing supportive housing they have in Guelph for those who face substance-use issues and have some level of involvement in the justice system.

Kerr said the van concept was created from feedback about barriers clients face in rural areas and they will continue to listen and learn how they can improve.

“I think listening to those who need to access service and listening to the voice of people with lived experience is key to knowing what more we need to do,” Kerr said.

Keegan Kozolanka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, GuelphToday.com