Opening the clinic

From left, Tina Bobinski, acting director of mental health and addictions at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, Peter Collins, chief of Fort William First Nation and Tracy Buckler, president of St. Joseph’s Care Group, cut a ribbon to open a new Rapid Access Addiction Medicine Clinic on the Fort William First Nation on Monday.

Dilico Anishinabek Family Care, along with the community of Fort William First Nation and St. Joseph’s Care Group marked the opening of an addictions clinic.

The new Rapid Access Addiction Medicine (RAAM) clinic was officially opened on the First Nation in the Dilico Anishinabek Family Care building on Nov. 2.

“It’s an important step for our community,” said Peter Collins, chief of Fort William First Nation.

“If we can deal with it (addictions) faster, hopefully we can help, rehabilitate and get people headed in the right direction,” added Collins.

Collins said that the RAAM clinic has been in the works for several years and that it was hard work and determination getting the clinic up and running.

The RAAM clinic will have a full team of multidisciplinary professionals that include addiction focused medical doctors, nurse practitioners, counsellors, traditional healers and peer support workers.

“When an individual is ready to present to the clinic for services, they show up that day to see a counsellor, they will see a physician, a nurse practitioner and they will get immediate assessment in terms of their dependency to the substance they are using,” said Tina Bobinski, acting director of mental health and addictions at Dilico Anishinabek Family Care.

The service is patient focused and doesn’t take a cookie-cutter approach to care with supports ranging from a one-time visit to help with medication for withdrawal management to something more extensive that might require deeper referrals.

Having access to traditional healers is also a key component of the clinic.

“As a service provider we take into consideration the values, customs, traditions of our Indigenous people and we want to ensure that our families when they come here can expect . . . that their individual experiences and histories are taken into account,” said Bobinski.

As for the need of the service, Bobinski called it “incredibly vast . . . as service providers collectively know the impact addictions is having on our members of the community . . . this is a service meeting an incredible gap.”

Ultimately, Bobinski hopes that the service will help save lives and families.

The new RAAM clinic is the third of its kind in the Thunder Bay area, with the first opening at the Balmoral Centre followed by one at the NorWest Community Health Centres on Simpson Street.

“We are really excited to offer a third site to allow people choice and have greater access to the services we know are so desperately needed,” said Tracy Buckler, president of St. Joseph’s Care Group.

The first clinic was opened in April of 2018 as a way to address the opioid crisis in Thunder Bay and the clinics have now seen 15,000 people.

The clinic will be open five days a week to provide faster care, with help being offered to people aged 16 years and up from the Thunder Bay district.

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