New addictions clinic to open in Portage la Prairie, province says

A new clinic serving people with addictions will open in Portage la Prairie, Man., this month, the province announced Thursday.

The new rapid access to addictions medicine, or RAAM, clinic will be the first of its kind in the Southern Health region and the sixth in the province when it opens in late October.

“The opening of this clinic is an important step towards addressing long wait times for Manitobans seeking treatment for substance use and addictions,” Manitoba Health Minister Cameron Friesen said at a news conference in Portage la Prairie, roughly 85 kilometres west of Winnipeg.

“Manitobans have waited long enough for care.”

The site at 159 Fifth St. E will help people who have high-risk substance use concerns and addictions. It will be open for appointments Monday through Friday and accept walk-ins on two half-days per week.

RAAM clinics offer access to intervention and community treatment programs. The centres are typically staffed by an addictions physician and a combination of clinicians, counsellors and outreach workers, and can refer patients to other health professionals if needed. 

“We will continue to work towards addressing the mounting substance use issue we have been facing as a society,” said Dr. Ginette Poulin, medical director for the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba and clinical lead for RAAM.

“Importantly, with the recent impacts of COVID on Manitobans, we are seeing shifts in substance use and growing issues with fentanyl and alcohol compounded by the detrimental effects of methamphetamines that had been lingering on our streets.”

New hub in Winnipeg

The province also announced Thursday it’s opened a new hub for RAAM clinics in Winnipeg. The hub will handle provincial support for other clinics, as well as mentorship, training, recruitment and collaboration.

The hub has hired a part-time provincial physician to lead those efforts, as well as a full-time provincial co-ordinator to work with clinics, stakeholders and community on improving processes and measuring performance.

Nearly six per cent of Manitobans will be diagnosed with a substance use disorder at some point in their lifetime, Friesen said Thursday.

“The issue of addictions is coming into the open. We’re getting rid of the stigma,” he said. “We’re learning how to meet people at the point of their need and provide the care that they so require.”

The province will spend more than $650,000 per year on the new clinic and new hub, the province said in a news release. Southern Health will also spend $360,000 on one-time renovation costs.

Manitoba has RAAM clinics in Brandon, Selkirk and Thompson, plus two in Winnipeg: the Crisis Response Centre and AFM Riverpoint.

Since August 2018, nearly 4,000 patients have used services at those sites, the province said in a news release Thursday. 

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