Barsby medical clinic aims for January start date

NANAIMO – Project receives $200,000 grant from A GP for Me initiative.

A medical clinic slated to open at John Barsby Secondary School aims to have services available by January.

The project committee, which includes representatives from the Nanaimo school district, doctors and nurses, recently secured $200,000 from A GP for Me, a provincial initiative that receives money from the B.C. government and Doctors of B.C., the provincial wing of the Canadian Medical Association.

According to Dr. Wilma Arruda, a pediatrician and project leader, health nurse and general practitioner, time for Barsby students could be among the first services.

“We’re trying to start small and grow and so we want to start with something doable … hopefully in the next few months, where we will have some basic health services but also collaborating and coordinating with services already existing within the school and in the community, and then over time, hopefully grow and build to something even bigger and better,” said Arruda.

She said there are a lot of ideas which will be developed more firmly with time, including services for the community.

Jan Tatlock, public health director with Island Health, another project partner, said there are a host of public health services and it just has to be determined what best suits the Barsby model. She said the committee would like to hear from students, teachers and counsellors about what they would like to see.

“We know that mental health, or mental wellness, is something that we may want to address and building capacity within the student body around health literacy and basic services that we’re hoping will be available as well,” Tatlock said.

The $200,000 will go toward a number of items, said Tatlock, including the hiring of a coordinator, which will be critical in setting up the clinic, and clinic space. It hasn’t been determined whether the clinic will be within the Harewood high school or a portable.

Arruda said there are a number of general practitioner doctors that are keen on doing clinic time.

“I think in January sometime, we’ll have something started and then it will give us time to work on some of the other components as we establish that initial clinic,” Arruda said.