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Wednesday, June 16, 2021
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A ‘chat to Pat’ could save a life

Drug and alcohol support service Directions Health has a brand new set of wheels.

Directions Health will be hitting in the road in their new van, named ‘Pat’ – Pathways to Assistance and Treatment, to provide medical and counselling services to Canberrans living in public housing or experiencing homelessness.

Directions Health CEO Bronwyn Hendry said dependence on drugs and alcohol is often intertwined with mental and chronic health conditions, which can result in unstable housing and homelessness.

“Unfortunately, people facing these challenges often find it difficult to access services, particularly holistic services,” she said.

“As a result, they don’t receive the treatment and help they need until they are very sick and require a hospital admission.”

The mobile clinic is an expansion on the outreach services Directions Health provides at Ainslie Village and Oaks Estate, taking healthcare to the people who need it, where they need it. ACT Health will provide additional funding for three new locations.

‘Pat’ is due to start outreach services from next year.

“In the meantime, the mobile clinic is providing a new, purpose-built medical facility for the residents of Ainslie Village and Oaks Estate,” Ms Hendry said.

“We are recruiting additional doctors, nurses and counsellors who will help provide these vital services in other locations around Canberra.”

‘Pat’ will be supported by funding from the John James Foundation and the ACT’s Primary Health Network, Capital Health Network (CHN).

“We know that homelessness puts a person at increased risk of many health problems,” says CHN CEO Megan Cahill.

“We’ve seen how taking primary health care to people in places that are safe, accessible and familiar has resulted in increased engagement and improved health outcomes.”

Ms Hendry said Directions Health had been raising funds for nearly two years to get the mobile clinic up and running, with a progressive rollout of the service to begin from January next year.

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