May 24, 2014 9:18 pm
Updated: May 24, 2014 10:55 pm

Patients, staff rally to keep Vancouver youth clinic open


Patients and medical staff of a Vancouver youth clinic rallied Saturday to keep the facility open after Vancouver Coastal Health announced plans to shut it down.

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Kitsilano’s Pine Free Clinic has been offering medical services for more than 40 years, but is now due to close October 31, along with three other Vancouver clinics — Evergreen on Crowley Drive in east Vancouver, Pacific Spirit in Kerrisdale and South Community Health Centre on Knight Street.

Patients of the Pine Free Clinic in Kitsilano joined staff Saturday to speak out about ways the facility has helped them. One young patient said the clinic saved her life.

“I started thinking of ways to kill myself because I couldn’t face another day,” says Mika Yasutake, who sought help at the clinic after suffering from depression as a teenager.

“It’s very possible that I might not be here today if it wasn’t for Pine Free,” she said.

Vancouver Point Grey MLA David Eby said about 15,000 patients will be affected by the clinic closures.

“If they shut down these clinics it will be a crisis… and the crisis will be emergency rooms will be overloaded with people,” Eby said.

But VCH says the services currently offered at those four clinics will be shifted to Raven Song Community Health Centre in East Vancouver.

“People with mental health issues, frail seniors, etc. That’s who we’ll serve at Raven Song and we’re simply not able to do that in these smaller, stand alone clinics,” VCH spokesperson Laura Case says, adding that patients will be able to keep seeing their doctors at a different location.

With files from Jeremy Hunka

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