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Free health clinic coming to Chatham affordable housing

A new program is getting started in Chatham that will provide people living in affordable housing with additional access to health care.

The Paramedic Led Wellness Clinic is being put on by the Erie St. Clair Local Health Integration Network (LHIN), Chatham-Kent EMS, and Chatham-Kent Housing Services.

The free weekly three-hour drop-in clinic will provide affordable housing tenants with assessments, health education, resources, and information about community programs.

Chatham-Kent EMS General Manager Donald MacLellan said the idea of the program came after representatives from Municipal Housing Services noticed many of their residents were suffering from varying health conditions.

"They approached the LHIN and ourselves to discuss some concerns and gaps they're looking at to try and fill in regards to support for clients that they had that were being subsidized for housing services," he said.

The clinic will start as a one-year pilot program inside the lobby of McNaughton Manor in Chatham. Medical professionals on the scene will provide assessments for cardiac and respiratory issues as well as diabetes. They will also assess fall-risk in clients. Information gathered at the clinics can be sent off to the patient's regular primary care practitioner.

The clinic organizers will partner with McMaster University’s Department of Family Medicine. MacLellan said the partnership will help them evaluate the program and its outcomes

"It's to help us build a foundation of looking at the impact that this type of clinic could provide clients," said MacLellan. "In turn, it could be a stepping stone or building block for future expansion or continuing of this clinic."

MacLellan said oftentimes people living in affordable housing are facing barriers that impact their health care and their health education.

"Part of this clinic is providing regular health conversations and health education for these tenants to, in turn hopefully improve their well being and overall health," said MacLellan.

With many residents of affordable housing being senior citizens, MacLellan is hopeful the program will help bring health care directly to people who might normally have a difficult time getting access to it on their own.

"Transporation is a barrier to health, income, education and other factors," he said. "Knowing that we'll be hitting an older popular, and trying to be preventative rather than reactive, will only benefit the individuals and the overall system."

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the first clinic is due to start March 13.

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