Sep 14, 2012 / 5:00 am
The dream of a group of community-minded citizens to bring a new sexual health clinic to Penticton was realized this week.
On Thursday, nurses, social activists and community members came together to celebrate the grand opening of the Options for Sexual Health, (Opt), Clinic at the Penticton Health Centre.
"We worked really hard to get this clinic open, and it is important because we are offering non-judgmental sexual health care to everyone who needs it in our area," said Opt board member Nona Lynn.
It has been nearly a year since the Interior Health Authority closed five clinics that test and treat sexually transmitted infections in Penticton, Kelowna, Kamloops, Grand Forks and Cranbrook, leaving a void to be filled.
It was thought at the time, services provided by such clinics could be provided elsewhere, but that did not prove to be the case.
Jennifer Breakspear, the executive director for Opt, said they were quick to step in when approached by community members.
But because Opt is limited in the amount of funding it provides, it asked the group to raise money. Once a grant was received from The Community Foundation of the South Okanagan, the effort was able to move ahead.
"These services are so desperately needed and people like to be anonymous rather than perhaps talking to a family physician, so we are happy to be opening our 59th clinic in Penticton today," said Breakspear.
The official opening of the two room clinic, with a counseling room across the hall is Sept. 18. The hours thereafter at the health centre on Carmi Avenue will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., Tuesday and Thursday.
Services range from low cost birth control to sexually transmitted infection testing and counselling to pap tests and pregnancy testing and counselling.
There will also always be someone to talk to about relationships and sexual and reproductive health.
Mayor Dan Ashton, who stopped by to show his support, believes the new clinic will benefit Penticton.
"I think any opportunity to alleviate the transmission of these diseases is good for the community and society as a whole," he said.
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