Dr. Kate Evans, medical director of the youth clinic; Shawna Walker, executive director of Peninsula Medical; and Dr. Lori Vogt, a child and youth psychiatrist are just some of the people behind the clinic. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Dr. Kate Evans, medical director of the youth clinic; Shawna Walker, executive director of Peninsula Medical; and Dr. Lori Vogt, a child and youth psychiatrist are just some of the people behind the clinic. (Hugo Wong/News Staff)

Peninsula youth clinic re-opens in a new location

The Saanich Peninsula Youth Health Clinic is re-opening on March 15 in its new home at Peninsula Medical on Bevan Ave. This is the first in a two-part series. Read part two here.

When a walk-in youth clinic first opened on the Saanich Peninsula last June, it was supposed to be a two-month pilot project. Operating out of Dr. Kate Evans’ existing office in the Ocean Pier Medical Clinic, it served youth from 12-24 and was the result of two years of meetings between doctors and community groups across Greater Victoria.

“I just realized as a mum and as a member of the community that there are youth here who do struggle,” said Evans, the medical director of the youth clinic.

Jen Harrison, a youth and family engagement co-ordinator with SharedCareBC, wondered what the demand would be.

“We were just going to start this thing for a couple of months to see if people [would] come, because we kept being asked, ‘is there a need?’ We have all these services down in Victoria,” said Harrison.

Instead of closing after two months, it stayed open for six. Doctors would see between four and 16 patients in that two-hour window, which could sometimes be overwhelming.

“Our youth advisers said, ‘you can’t close. This is a valuable service,’” said Dr. Lori Vogt, a psychiatrist who has been with the project since the start.

“Sometimes you don’t know the true need until you open it up,” said Harrison.

The clinic stayed open until mid-December, when they felt they had to close to apply some lessons learned from the pilot project. About three months later, they are opening again, hopefully for the long haul.

While similar services were available in downtown Victoria and the West Shore, Vogt said youth had trouble getting there. They may have had to miss a full day of school for an appointment, or a parent would have to take time off work to drive them. Some youth said their family members worked at local health centres and they didn’t want to see a cousin or an aunt during a medical appointment.

Young volunteers said the clinic had to be close to home, open after school hours, inclusive and judgment-free. They wanted to be friendly to the LGBTQ community, and Evans acknowledged they are at higher risk for mental health issues, not inherently because of their orientation, but “because society and their families often reject them.”

“It was wonderful to provide a safe space for them,” said Evans.

Youth also said they wanted involvement from local First Nations to “learn more and heal some of the old wounds,” said Evans. In light of this, clinic doctors will take cultural safety training on the legacy of intergenerational trauma that comes from oppression from government and society at-large. They will also continue to accept feedback from First Nations patients about what would make them more comfortable in the space.

Vogt said the group had studied similar youth clinics on lower Vancouver Island and learned they dealt with sports injuries and requests for birth control. After opening on the Peninsula, both doctors were surprised at how many youth were seeking mental health support for anxiety, depression, substance use, psychotic symptoms, grief and complicated family situations. Young patients were happy they could see a medical doctor for physical issues, said Vogt, but after a few visits to build trust, they would feel comfortable telling the doctor that “Oh, by the way, I’m suffering from these mental health symptoms and I need help,” said Vogt. The doctor could then refer them for mental health support, be it from a counsellor or a psychiatrist (a medical doctor who can prescribe medication).

Vogt said it was important to note that while patients could certainly drop-in to see a family doctor or counsellor, a psychiatrist requires a referral and appointment — which the family doctor can provide if needed.

Vogt said publicly funded mental health services are “state-of-the-art,” and during the pilot project, an intake worker was helping channel youth into the right services and doing on-the-spot counselling, which was “a huge help” to doctors and youth.

In the future, Evans would like to have discounted contraception the way Island Sexual Health does. Right now, they can only offer some free samples. “The ultimate dream would be if people could donate so we could provide free or discounted contraception.”

With their new home at Peninsula Medical, that dream might not be so far off.

“If we had applied ourselves to gain non-profit status, it would take maybe a year or two,” said Evans. “This way, we’re working under the umbrella of Peninsula Medical and they already have that status, so we’ll be able to accept donations quite soon.”

Next week, learn about the complexities of opening a two-hour a week youth clinic, and how individuals and businesses can help. The walk-in clinic re-opens March 15 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Peninsula Medical, 2a-2379 Bevan Ave. Read part two here.

reporter@peninsulanewsreview.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Vaisakhi normally would have volunteers like these women (in Surrey from a past year) preparing food ahead of the festival to be given out to the hundreds of thousands of spectactors. (Black Press Media file photo)
Greater Victoria Sikhs observe Vaisakhi virtually, but find a way to give out food

Food and taking care of those in need is a big part of Sikh teachings

Victoria police are investigating the cause of a single-vehicle crash that sent one person to hospital early April 12. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Single-vehicle crash topples Victoria hydro pole, sends one to hospital

Police investigating whether speed or impairment were factors

The District of North Saanich has issued a notice to remove this floating structure from the waters off Lillan Hoffar Park. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Boat owner ordered to vacate waters off North Saanich park

Couple have been living in floating structure off Lillian Hoffar Park for a number of years

Victoria police continue to search for wanted man Travis Moore after he evaded an arrest attempt by slipping through the bushes in Beacon Hill Park April 11. (Courtesy of VicPD)
Victoria police continue search for wanted man following failed arrest attempt

Travis Moore, 28, is a federal offender wanted Canada wide for breaching his statutory release

A few dozen students and parents gathered outside Lansdowne Middle School South Campus Monday morning to protest proposed budget cuts to SD61 music programs. From left to right: Lyra Gaudin, Cleo Bateman, Abby Farish, Brigitte Peters, Enid Gaudin, Des Farish. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Students protest proposed cuts to SD61 music programs

Proposed $1.5-million cut would hit elementary and middle school programs

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

A 41-person air task force, including 12 members from 407 Long Range Patrol Squadron at 19 Wing Comox, seized more than $3 million CND worth of cocaine as part of Op Caribbe. Photo by Canadian Armed Forces Operations/Facebook
Vancouver Island team helps make $368 million three-tonne cocaine seizure

12 members from 19 Wing Comox involved in Op Caribbe

Killer whales surface near Sebastion Beach in Lantzville on Sunday, April 11. (Photos courtesy Ella Smiley)
Chainsaw and friends near the beach thrill orca watchers in Lantzville

Jagged-finned orca named Chainsaw and 17 others spent hours off Sebastion Beach this weekend

Nootka Sound RCMP and DFO Conservation and Protection Officers seized this 30 foot vessel, fishing gear and equipment as well as Chinook salmon, salmon roe, rock fish and ling cod after an investigation on Sept. 11. A judge in Campbell River on February hit the owner and his accomplices with significant fines, a ban on holding fishing licences and loss of equpment, including the boat’s motor and trolling motor. RCMP photo
Washington State trio’s fisheries violations the worst veteran officer has seen in 20 years

Judge bans three men from fishing or holding a fishing licence anywhere in Canada

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Most Read