Health van brings care to community

Substance use, overdose, poverty and homelessness impact communities across Canada, including rural Wellington County. 

It’s often challenging to remain optimistic about the future when these issues affect individuals within our families, workplaces and neighbourhoods.

However, amidst these challenges, innovative solutions are emerging locally to provide healthcare, social support and connection to those affected. 

The Sanguen Community Health Van exemplifies one such solution, offering mobile services across Guelph and Wellington County. With stops in Mount Forest, Arthur, Fergus, Rockwood, Palmerston, Harriston and various locations in Guelph, the van is equipped with a team comprising a registered nurse, social support worker, van and outreach coordinator, as well as individuals with lived experience in homelessness or substance use.

Our aim is to create a welcoming environment, meeting people where they are, whether they seek a friendly ear or essential services like vaccinations. We provide a range of necessities including food, tampons/pads, clothing, and outdoor survival supplies. 

Additionally, we offer harm reduction materials such as new needles, naloxone kits and testing strips for detecting fentanyl. Our primary focus is on fostering connections and relationships, especially for individuals facing barriers and stigma with traditional services.

Peer support is integral to our approach. Offering guidance on safer drug use, overdose prevention and access to other services, peer support workers make assistance relatable and inclusive for all who visit us. Our interdisciplinary team also assists visitors with navigating the healthcare system, crisis support, safety planning, testing for sexually transmitted infections, wound care and basic health assessments.

Since our inception in 2016, we’ve witnessed a growing demand for our services. More individuals rely on us for essentials like food, healthcare, clothing and shelter, as well as harm reduction supplies, transportation and phone support. We’re grateful to collaborate with outstanding community agencies like the Community Paramedicine Program, public health, Centre Wellington Food Bank, Mount Forest Family Health Team, Arthur Learning Centre, The Seed and the Guelph Food Bank.

To learn more about the Sanguen Community Health Van, including our schedule and locations, find us on Instagram @gwcommunityhealthvan and Facebook: The Community Health Van-Guelph/Wellington County. You can also reach us by phone at  519-362-9464. 

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Submitted by the Community Health Van Team. This column is presented by the Wellington Guelph Drug Strategy and its partners to inform the public and help prevent harm from substance use.

Community Health Van Team