A good number of people living in shelters or on the street don’t have a family doctor or access to a primary care provider. Before The Ottawa Mission opened its Primary Care Medical Clinic in 2007, those who were homeless had to get themselves to a hospital emergency room if they were sick and needed help. For someone dealing with addiction or mental illness, that often didn’t happen, and people often became more ill.
Thanks to our ongoing partnership with Ottawa Inner City Health, there have been Nurse Practitioners at The Mission’s medical clinic for the past 10 years. Three of them work together to keep the clinic open weekdays and weekend mornings. As well, two part-time physicians provide consultation services and see those clients with more complex needs.
Carrie Whittley is a Nurse Practitioner who has been part of the Mission’s clinic team for 8 of its 10 years. On any given day, she sees around 12 patients with a wide variety of health issues – everything from bronchial infections to frostbite to open flesh wounds. “I have worked in other primary care clinics and have left them to work here full time. There is nowhere better to connect with clients who have multiple conditions and are so in need of quality primary care. Trust is a big issue with this population, but once you have gained it there is a reliable therapeutic relationship and they feel able to come to you with all of their health concerns.”
Over the past ten years the clinic team has impacted a lot of lives with more than 7,300 patient visits last year alone. Congratulations to all the clinic staff and volunteers on a tremendous decade of caring.