Northern Health services in downtown Prince George
In December (2017), Northern Health (NH) released a final report that reviewed NH services in the downtown area of Prince George. The purpose of the report was to review all existing services provided or contracted by Northern Health in the downtown core area, and to provide recommendations to support development of accessible, integrated health services in downtown Prince George. The review revealed that while Northern Health delivers some services in the downtown core, non-profit organizations funded by Northern Health are better organized and adept to provide the services required for the population living in the downtown core, which includes many with mental health and/or substance use issues, or living on or near the streets.
Judy Darcy, BC Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, noted how the review by Northern Health supports work being done across BC to address mental health and addictions and provide appropriate and timely care for BC’s most vulnerable population. Key findings of the review broadly encompass improving coordination and delivery of health services in downtown PG, supporting health services with mental health and substance use services, and addressing housing shortages.
Information for the review was gathered from Northern Health staff and physicians, service provider organizations, the City of Prince George, downtown business owner, and other key stakeholders. An external advisory group including the City, RCMP, BC Housing, Downtown PG, and the First Nations Health Authority, provided guidance throughout the review process. Erin Foley, president of downtown Prince George, commented in a Northern Health news release that the review is a first step stating “We are optimistic we have turned a corner, and while the solution won’t happen tomorrow, we are on a path that I hope will meet everyone’s needs.”