At a Press Conference this afternoon it was announced that funding from RIH Foundation and United Way is supporting a new pilot project aimed at closing the gap on homelessness and addiction in Kamloops.
A collaborative investment of $100,000 will provide support for 11 clients at the Emerald Centre Co-Ed Emergency Shelter, operated by Canadian Mental Health Association. These single room occupancy units will be for the most vulnerable clients after completing detox.
“There has been a huge gap in the system for a long time. The people who are most vulnerable are most likely to relapse in the first 30 days after completing a detox program. Many of these people have nowhere to go after spending 5 – 7 days at the Phoenix Centre and they will often wind up on the street, cycling through the shelters or in the Emergency Room,” says Sian Lewis, Executive Director at the Phoenix Centre.
Dr. Todd Ring, Medical Director of Emergency Services and an Emergency Room Physician at Royal Inland Hospital spoke at the Press Conference about the disproportionately high use of Emergency Room services by these vulnerable members of the community. “On Easter long weekend an individual who suffers from mental illness and substance abuse accessed the Emergency Room four different times and many individuals in our community are under similar circumstances.”
“I’m optimistic this pilot project will reduce number of visits by this population and will pro actively help to keep vulnerable members of our society off the street,” Dr. Ring said.
The RIH Foundation is supporting this pilot project recognizing the clients who will be served are disproportionately high users of Emergency Room services at RIH.
Heidi Coleman, CEO of the RIH Foundation explains: “We are very excited to be involved in this new initiative that we believe will help alleviate some of the pressure on our Emergency Room while also ensuring these individuals are receiving the most effective and appropriate support available.”
United Way is supporting this pilot project because it provides independent living for people dealing with health concerns and barriers and supports healthy people and strong communities.
The $100,000 investment is going towards Phoenix Centre staff support Monday through Friday to ensure clients stay connected to and attend programs and services. It will also provide evening and overnight staff support onsite at the Emerald Centre seven days per week and three meals per day for clients.
The rooms are expected to be made available by May 1 and people will start moving in soon afterwards.