Peter Tilley, Executive Director of the Ottawa Mission.
Wayne Cuddington / Postmedia
The Ottawa Mission unveiled its new health clinic on Tuesday in response to a soaring number of homeless patients, a population the mission says has climbed by 74 per cent in the past year alone.The Dymon Health Clinic won’t be ready for patients for another three weeks, but the upgraded facilities will help meet this high volume of patients with modern equipment that will allow for faster, but more thorough treatment, said Peter Tilley, executive director of the Ottawa Mission. Additionally, the expanded facility will offer new services, including women’s care, a Hepatitis C community clinic and foot care. The mission already offers dental care to patients, a service that isn’t part of most shelters in the province.There are several factors contributing to the increased number of patients, but a shortage of affordable housing is the primary reason, Tilley said.“The need is definitely there in terms of volume of patients alone.”An additional factor has been the opioid crisis, the brunt of which has been borne by the nearby Shepherds of Good Hope, Tilley said.“We know the Shepherds of Good Hope are doing their part in dealing with the opioid crisis with their supervised consumption site,” he said. “So they’re stepping forward and saving lives. We can reach forward and assist them by providing other services here.”Tuesday’s unveiling occurred at the mission, in front of a crowd of about 50 volunteers, employees, members of the media and politicians. Among those in attendance were Mayor Jim Watson and Rideau-Vanier Ward Coun. Mathieu Fleury.“Providing this beautiful expanded new facility, is going to bring greater respect and greater help to those less fortunate in our community,” Watson said.That comment was echoed by Dr. Vera Etches, Ottawa’s medical officer of health.“Housing is a major determinant of health,” said Etches. “By establishing this clinic you are making a difference for people who have some of the greatest needs in our city.”Etches said the homeless population has higher likelihood of dealing with disabilities, mental and physical health conditions as well as addiction — issues an improved health clinic can address.The planning for the expanded facility has been two years in the making and faced no shortage of obstacles.“We were still $300,000 short, six months (into construction),” Tilley said. “So it’s like, ‘Boy are we going to go into the reserves? Are we going to go into the red?’ ”However, a pre-existing relationship with Ottawa-based Dymon Storage led to a conversation about the company jumping on board with the project. Tilley said his organization was just hoping Dymon might offer a partial assistance, with the wildest dream of reaching a $100,000 donation. Dymon founder Glen Luckman, exceeded those hopes, covering the remaining $300,000.“We explained how we were falling short,” Tilley said. “They said, ‘We’re in.’“It’s just a beautiful thing.”The Dymon Health Clinic, located at 55 Daly St., is expected to open in mid-July.ALSO IN THE NEWS:Plans in limbo for Patterson Park bistroCyclist, 18, seriously hurt and charged in Westboro-area crashA dad on losing his only son in a sudden crash: ‘Jonas was cheated’