Foundry Kelowna looking to go mobile

Youth health centre looks to expand access to services across Central Okanagan

Foundry Kelowna wants to initiate a mobile health care service by the fall of 2019.

The youth health care service centre established over a year ago at 1815 Kirschner Rd. would only be the third service of its kind in Canada.

The concept is currently being discussed and explored with Foundry’s community partners through March, followed by a program development and design plan worked on between April and August, then the program rollout later this fall.

The Canadian Mental Health Association branch in Kelowna, the agency that operates The Foundry, had representatives make a presentation to the education and student service committee of the Central Okanagan School District, which has been an active supporter of the youth health care initiative.

The program has built up considerable positive momentum and feedback from youth since it was started as one of five Foundry pilot projects across the country, with more than 1,800 people coming through their doors looking for help.

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Melissa Feddersen, manager of Foundry Kelowna, said surveys indicate about a 94 per cent general satisfaction with providing access to mental and primary care health services for youth.

Feddersen said the mobile service would provide an extension of those services to meet the needs of youth from Peachland to Lake Country who can’t for whatever reason get to the Kirschner Road centre but need the help.

“What the vehicle would look like is part of the discussion that has to take place but it is likely to be an RV type of thing,” Feddersen said.

She said similar mobile projects launched in Calgary and communities in Ontario will help provide a model to develop specific to the Central Okanagan region’s needs.

Trustee Moyra Baxter, chair of the Central Okanagan Board of Education, said the success of The Foundry concept has been widespread where it has been launched in B.C.

Beyond Vancouver and the five other pilot project sites representing each health authority, a second phase of pilot projects have been initiated this year, including Penticton within the Interior Health Region.

“This has developed an incredible reputation across the province. The communities that don’t have them now really want them,” Baxter said.

“We have been very active in surveying the response to our services,” added Feddersen. “This is a new concept and we have a lot to learn still, but we have a lot to grow as well.”

RELATED: Foundry fundraising meets $2 million goal

Mike Gawliuk, director of service delivery and program innovation for the Kelowna branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, the agency which operates Foundry Kelowna, said the partnerships formed between various youth health service providers has been an unintended benefit of the concept he was a driving force in helping create initially.

“It’s not about what Foundry is but what it does. It has brought together groups with similar interests who rarely if ever communicated in the past to create working relationships that lead to working in a collaborative effort,” said Gawliuk.

Beyond a mobile service, Gawliuk and Feddersen noted other improvements targeted for Foundry Kelowna in 2019 include increasing primary health care services bolstered by the addition of a nurse practitioner; expanding peer support services; and initiating more health support programs.

“Our push has been to include parental caregivers and family members in this process. This is not intended to be a one-off family intervention,” Gawliuk said.

“We start with addressing what a young person’s immediate health concern issue is who walks through our doors, and work to address other issues that may also arise from that as we go on.”



barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

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