Interior Health responds to ‘call to action’ letter from homeless advocates

Click to play video: 'Interior Health opens a line of communication with homeless advocates in the Okanagan'
Interior Health opens a line of communication with homeless advocates in the Okanagan
Homeless advocacy groups around the Thompson-Okanagan region have called on Interior Health to provide more help and services to local organizations. And as Randi-Marie Adams reports, the health authority has finally responded – Dec 12, 2022

Shelter providers across the southern interior formed a coalition a month ago, calling for immediate assistance.

Their community’s homeless crisis prompted them to write to Interior Health, BC Housing, and other levels of government.

“We are in the very early stages of our conversations but we’re hopeful,” said executive director Carmen Rempel from The Kelowna Gospel Mission.

“What we’ve been able to do is establish a line of communication between our coalition — those who wrote the letter — and the health authority in the region.”

There are not enough shelter spaces, according to shelter operators. There are a lot of complex health-care needs among those living on the streets. In addition, BC is still experiencing an overdose crisis.

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Interior Health has joined in on the conversation now and says they have been meeting regularly.

“We have responded to the letter and have been meeting regularly with the shelter operators within our designated communities since we received it,” said Interior Health’s Danielle Cameron.

“And really looking at — let’s better define what’s needed for health care and identify gaps.”

Rempel says consistency is important and that’s where BC Housing and especially Interior Health come in.

Click to play video: 'Kelowna man collects donations to help feed and clothe homeless'
Kelowna man collects donations to help feed and clothe homeless

“So, some of the things that were asking for specifically is that we would be able to have established hours, where we could have potential nurses,” said Rempel.

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BC Housing said they will have more shelter openings in the coming weeks and are continuing to work with shelter operators. Their goal is to move more people from shelters to long-term housing, already opening 234 supportive homes in Kelowna since 2017.

Now that the lines of communication have been opened, Rempel hopes to see more permanent solutions for healthcare and housing.

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