There are a multitude of reasons young people don’t go to the doctor.
They may not know how to make appointments, or how to keep them.
They may not want their parents to know. They could even be fearful.
But the Chilliwack Youth Health Centre has been working at breaking down all those barriers and more. They’ve done it with such success that they’ve now been able to increase their service hours. It’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s confidential.
The CYHC has two locations, one at the Stó:lo Primary Health Care Clinic and one at the Neighbourhood Learning Centre, which is attached to Chilliwack secondary. Both sites have been very popular, with one offering mental health services and the other offering health care every Tuesday afternoon.
Now, they’ve expanded to offer those services on Thursday at well, by changing the date at Stó:lo Primary Health Care Clinic.
What they really want youth to know is that everyone is welcome at either site.
Having services offered at the NLC on Tuesday and at Stó:lo on Thursday means that patients can get more thorough followup care, without landing back at a walk-in clinic. Patients’ charts are accessible at both sites, and both sites now offer mental and medical health care.
“This centre is filling a need,” says Brandi Carlow, program coordinator. “Some days we are seeing more than 30 youth here.”
Who uses the centre is vastly diverse. There are young parents who aren’t attached to a family physician. There are transgender youth who don’t feel comfortable with a family doctor. There are patients who are afraid to talk to their parents about health issues, and there are patients who need counselling services.
In all cases, if the team at a CYHC decides a patient needs more advanced care, they can connect them to the proper services.
Issues that affect youth can run the gamut from daily struggles to life-altering concerns. They include acne, sexual health, anxiety, depression, substance use, gender identity, family conflict, peer conflict, and school and life planning.
On a recent Tuesday, the waiting room after school was bustling with students coming straight from class to secure an appointment. Having the centre inside the NLC means school staff can easily direct students directly to professional medical help once a week. In Sardis, counsellors do outreach to lead students there to the Stó:lo site.
Dr. Melanie Madill, lead physician for the CYHC, says connecting with young patients will set them up for better health through their lives. There’s a roster of six to eight physicians who take on one shift a month, and they have the support and time of Dr. Rob Lees, a community psychologist for Ministry of Children and Family Development.
They really want to de-myth the location as specific to First Nations youth. In fact, any youth ages 12-26 can drop in there on the Thursdays and receive free medical care.
They also encourage youth to take transit to a centre if needed. Counsellors at Sardis and Chilliwack secondary have access to one way bus passes for their students, and both centres are along major bus routes.
The whole concept was made possible by multiple agencies coming together to get the services up and running.
To visit the Chilliwack Youth Health Centre on Tuesdays, go to the Neighbourhod Learning Centre (NLC), 46361 Yale Road, attached to Chilliwack Secondary. Hours are 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. for counselling, and 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. for a medical care. The NLC/CSS site is accessible by transit routes 1, 3 and 11.
The phone number is 604-819-4603.
To visit on a Thursday, go to the Stó:lo Primary Health Care Clinic, 7201 Vedder Road, Building No. 7.
Hours there are 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. for counselling, and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. for medical care. The bus routes that service this site are 1 and 5.
The phone number is 604-824-3219 or 1-844-827-2473
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.chilliwackyhc.com, or the centre’s Facebook page.