The City of Ottawa hopes programming run through a state-of-the-art mobile health centre can eliminate many barriers for people living with issues such as homelessness and drug addiction.
A specialized vehicle, called the "Health for Good Van" is equipped with work stations and examination tables for health practitioners. It will offer specific services such as routine testing, STI treatment, harm reduction services and counselling.
The programming is being run in conjunction with Ottawa Inner City Health, Ottawa Public Health, The Royal and Sandy Hill and Somerset West Community Health Centres.
The mobile health unit will also provide electronic medical records. According to Ottawa Inner City Health, many who experience homelessness do not have a health card and also lack a documented medical history that can be used by healthcare professionals.
Matty Gaudet, an overdose prevention and peer support worker with Ottawa Inner City Health, has experienced the difficulty of getting adequate health care while he was homeless and living with an addiction.
"There was this stigma because I was a street person and I felt my care wasn't at the same level, and I used to think it was in my head," Gaudet said.
Similar mobile health programs are already active in multiple Canadian cities, including Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.