Interior Health defends decision to take over Penticton addiction services

The Pathways Addictions Resource Centre in Penticton is slated for closure as its funding contract with Interior Health will end on May 31. Global News

Interior Health is defending its decision to cut funding to Penticton’s Pathways Addictions Resource Centre.

The health authority plans to transition addiction services to an in-house model as of June 1.

“We’re taking this opportunity to really enhance and integrate the care for patients with mental health,” Dr. Shallen Letwin said.

Read more: Concerns grow over future of addictions treatment services in Penticton

Pathways Addictions Resource Centre currently offers walk-in services to people seeking help, but there is concern that Interior Health will stop drop-in services.

“One of the key features that we’re going to be adjusting is ensuring we have an intake process that is five days a week to allow for easy access and smooth access to services,” Letwin said.

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“And then from there, the care teams will create a care plan and what’s needed for the clients and provide options of what opportunities would be helpful to them,” he added.

Letwin wouldn’t confirm whether or not there would be a drop-in centre.

Read more: ‘It was a gut punch’: Shock expressed over impending closure of Penticton addiction treatment centre

“At this point, they’re still working on the full suite of services that will be integrated as we look at how the integration with the urgent and primary care centre and the clinical teams from Market Street come together,” he said.

He also said that the health authority will use the resources to try to reach clients that may be just outside the geographic area that’s currently serviced.

Pathways staff who wish to continue on must apply through the normal hiring process to be Interior Health staff, Letwin said.

The addictions resource centre said funding from Interior Health makes up 95 per cent of its budget, which means an uncertain future.

Read more: B.C. reports record number of illicit drug overdoses in 2020

“With the money that we get, we just provide a whole wraparound service for all of our clients in all the areas they are struggling in,” Daryl Meyers, Pathways’ executive director, previously told Global News.

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“I don’t think they are going to be able to pick up all that slack,” Meyers said.

Pathways said it has been in the community for over 47 years, providing a continuum of care for thousands of people who have struggled with substance use and addiction.

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