Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) branch in Hintonburg is open!

SWCHC Executive Director Jack McCarthy calls the Rosemount Branch of the Somerset West Community Health Centre “one stop shopping for health, wellness, guidance and compassion.” Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

The new Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) branch in Hintonburg celebrated its grand opening on September 18th.

“Health care is a key part of a vibrant community,” says SWCHC board chair Marguarite Kelley. “We have no doubt that our new branch will quickly become a valued fixture of the neighbourhoods of Hintonburg, Mechanicsville and Wellington West.”

The Rosemount branch of the SWCHC – located at 30 Rosemount Avenue – offers general health services as well as counselling and social service walk-ins. It also provides services such as chronic disease management, prenatal and post-partum care, as well as programs for families, youth, and seniors.

In addition to welcoming the public to their newly renovated building, SWCHC is also welcoming a new partner in the building. The Parkdale Food Centre (PFC) is getting ready to move into the building’s lower level.

“I think it is wonderful to have the Parkdale Food Centre as a partner with SWCHC,” says SWCHC Executive Director Jack McCarthy. “We share a common view and set of values of how we want to support people within the community.”

PFC’s Executive Director, Karen Secord, is also thrilled about the new location and the possibilities it opens up. In addition to having a permanent space dedicated to operations and programming, she’s happy PFC  clients will have easy access to health care.

“I see lots of opportunities for joint initiatives,” adds McCarthy. “I’m excited about the future of our partnership.” [story continues below photo]

MP Paul Dewar; SWCHC board chair Marguarite Kelley; CEO of the Champlain Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) Chantale LeClerc; Mayor Jim Watson; MPP Yasir Naqvi; SWCHC Executive Director Jack McCarthy; and Coun. Katherine Hobbs at the official ribbon cutting ceremony of the Rosemount Branch of the new Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC). Photo by Andrea Tomkins.

SWCHC purchased the building next door to the Rosemount Library in 2012 and has renovated it to serve a projected 1,100 new clients. The $6 million project has been primarily funded by Infrastructure Ontario, with additional funding from the City of Ottawa and many local businesses and community members.

While the health centre occupies the upper two levels of the building, PFC is setting up on the lower level. The 21,000 [ed: correction, it’s actually 2,100] square-foot space will not only be used as a food distribution centre. It will include community spaces with planned programming, a kids’ kitchen, computer stations and a cookbook library.

“We want to change the way that food banking works,” says Secord.

PFC’s move from their rental facility at 89 Stonehurst Avenue has also been aided by financial and in-kind support from many sources. Most significantly, the centre recently received a Trillium grant for $92,800 over two years.

Secord explains that the Trillium grant will “increase organizational capacity to deliver new community food security programs that will focus on improving access to healthy foods and promoting healthy eating.”

For example, PFC is building a community kitchen at 30 Rosemount—a large space where clients will have opportunities to cook with local chefs. After cooking workshops, clients will be able to store their food on site in commercial freezers.

Secord knows that many of the clients live in marginal housing without access to fully furnished kitchens. “This will reduce social isolation,” she says, “and provide assistance in planning and preparing meals.”

Funding is also being directed to PFC’s harvesting and gleaning efforts that allow clients to be involved in gathering fruit, nuts and vegetables around the city and at nearby farms. Additionally, Secord is creating a network of Ottawa food banks that will enable them to collaborate and share best practices.

SWCHC is open to clients Monday through Friday. PFC plans to open later this year.

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