British Columbia·New

Women's health services expanding on Downtown Eastside

Vancouver Coastal Health expands women's health services on the Downtown Eastside.

New services include women's supervised injection site, mobile health van and case management team

Vancouver Coastal Health's Bonnie Wilson (left) and Leslie Bonshor (right) are joined by Roberta Price, an elder from the Snuneynuxw and Cowichan First Nations, as they announce new health programs aimed at women in the Downtown Eastside. (Bal Brach/CBC News)

Vancouver Coastal Health is adding new services exclusively aimed at women on the Downtown Eastside, including a supervised injection site, a mobile health van and a case management team.

"We know that women, especially women who have experienced trauma or are vulnerable due to problematic substance use and or mental health issues have some unique challenges accessing appropriate health services in the Downtown Eastside and we want to change that," said Laura Case, Vancouver Community chief operating officer with Vancouver Coastal Health.

According to VCH, nearly 40 per cent of the residents in the Downtown Eastside are women — and many of them are vulnerable. 

VCH is currently looking for a location and a community service provider to help create a women's only supervised injection site.

"Although Insite provides injection services for both men and women — and 27 per cent of the clients of Insite are women — some vulnerable women feel safer and more supported when they are able to access services in women-only settings," said Bonnie Wilson, a director with Vancouver Coastal Health.

"Our goal is to create a safe and supported environment around substance use and harm reduction education."

A women's intensive case management team (ICMT) and a women's mobile health services van will also be offered as part of the new plans.

The van is expected to be on the street by the spring of 2017.