Community Papers

FASD assessment clinic opens

A new clinic in Vernon will focus on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder. - Graphic submitted
A new clinic in Vernon will focus on fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.
— image credit: Graphic submitted

For an adult in B.C.’s Interior to be diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), it would usually mean a trip to the province’s only specialized clinic in Vancouver.

Until Thursday.

The new Spec-Team (Specialized Team) Assessment Society Clinic opened Thursday in Vernon, sharing space with Independent Living Vernon Society on the first floor – soon as you open the door – of the People Place on 27th Avenue.

“We are here to help diagnose FASD in adults,” said Bernadette O’Donnell, the clinic’s director and coordinator.

While there are many such clinics across the province to diagnose FASD in youth, the only one in B.C. for adults before Thursday was at the Lower Mainland, which can be prohibitive from those suspected of having FASD.

“For an individual in the Interior to access the clinic in Vancouver, there are huge barriers in the way,” said O’Donnell. “There’s travel, costs, hotel, finding caretakers. It’s all really prohibitive.”

Compared to Alberta next door, where there are 56 such assessment clinics for adults, B.C. is lagging way behind. Hence the obvious need for such a clinic north of Hope.

“This will provide many opportunites for adults with FASD,” said O’Donnell.

Individuals who would like to make an appointment with the local clinic can visit and pick up a referral form, or call to make an appointment and meet with O’Donnell and her team (which includes a physician, neuropsychologist, occupational therapist and social worker) for a conversation.

Referrals to the clinic may also come from local agencies, family members or the court system.

“We are available to people throughout the North Okanagan,” said O’Donell

“And we have a mobile clinic that goes to Kelowna and Kamloops.”

Call 250-938-5022, or 250-545-9292 for information.

The clinic is in the process of building its website.

O’Donnell wants to say thank you to the community for the support shown the clinic leading up to its opening.

“We are looking forward to collaborating and building more awareness, prevention and support for these individuals (with FASD),” she said.


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