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Sexual health clinic looking for partners in Kinsmen Health Building

The Kinsmen Health Centre is without a regular tenant after Interior Health moved its public health nurse to the Arrow Lakes Hospital earlier this year. - Alex Cooper/Arrow Lakes News
The Kinsmen Health Centre is without a regular tenant after Interior Health moved its public health nurse to the Arrow Lakes Hospital earlier this year.
— image credit: Alex Cooper/Arrow Lakes News

The Nakusp Options for Sexual Health clinic is looking for someone to take over the Kinsmen Health Centre so it can stay in its home of the past 16 years.

“We would like to express our interest in working with the village towards the continuing community use of the Kinsmen health building,” Teresa Weatherhead, the chair of the clinic told Nakusp council last week.

The move comes after Interior Health moved its public health nurse unit to the Arrow Lakes Hospital at the start of the year.

The OPT clinic now finds itself as the sole user of the Kinsmen building, which it uses only two Monday evenings every month and the occasional Saturday.

It is hoping to find partners to continue the building’s use as a health facility in Nakusp. The Kinsmen building was built in the 1960s and donated to the Village of Nakusp for use as a health facility in 1969, with a 40-year contract in place.

In 2009, when the contract expired, the village started charging rent to Interior Health. The OPT clinic was able to use the building rent-free.

Now, with IHA having moved out, the building has no main tenant and its future is up in the air.

Weatherhead told council the building works very well for the clinic’s purposes. They need six rooms to properly run the clinic, which provides Pap screenings, birth control counseling, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and sexual health education.

“We’re filling a pretty much needed gap for our overall health care for the area,” said Weatherhead. “All our volunteers are fully trained counsellors for sexual health.”

She went to council looking for support from the village to turn the building into a “collaborative, multi-use facility for health initatives in Nakusp. “We’d like to continue to honour the purpose of the building,” she said.

Weatherhead said she has spoken to other alternative health providers who might be interested in renting space. She told council she spoke to Arrow & Slocan Lakes Community Services about partnering to make use of the building. Grant funding could be obtained to help pay for necessary renovations to the building; it has asbestos and mold issues right now, she said. Interior Health’s Health Community Initiatives program could be looked to for funding.

“Certain alternative health modalities have expressed interesting in single room rental space,” she said. “Other direct social and health related services and programs have also expressed interest.”

The OPT clinic has applied for a $5,000 grant from Columbia Basin Trust, $2,900 of which is earmarked to pay for renovations of wherever the clinic ends up. Weatherhead said they have been looking at other spaces for the past three years, since the building was last put up for sale, but that the Kinsmen building serves their needs best.

Nakusp council, in a closed-door session, opted to give the OPT clinic until the end of June to come up with a business plan, said chief administrative officer Linda Tynan. After that, the village will start to look at other options for the building.

Mayor Karen Hamling said it would be up to the OPT board to develop a business plan to use the building. She likened it to the old firehall, where the village has asked for groups to come up proposals to use the building.

“We would expect the same from this group,” she said. “If this is something they want to do, they would put it together. Staff would work with them to help if they needed it.”

In an interview following the council meeting, Weatherhead said she hoped the village would back the project and that the clinic’s six volunteers can’t formulate the business plan by themselves.

“We’re extremely hopeful that the village will take notice of this and notice there are other areas of our community that are in need of space,” she said. “If the village were to spearhead this, it would really look good on their behalf. There’s certainly grants available, there’s ways available.”

Tim Payne, the executive director of Arrow & Slocan Lakes Community Services, told the Arrow Lakes News that  discussions with the OPT clinic were brief.

“We’re always looking for possibilities and partnerships but there was nothing definite and no commitment,” he said, adding they were looking to expand. “We’re always looking at spaces because right now we’re scrambling with our space right now. We haven’t got any real directive to do that at this point in time.”

 

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