The Salvus Clinic in Moncton, N.B., has officially closed its doors after being unable to find a new space to treat the more than 4,200 patients who use it.
The clinic began a search for a new space as it began to outgrow its current space at 22 Church St., and received an eviction notice at the end of January.
The clinic began operation in 2010.
“We thought there was an opportunity, we’ve outgrown our space and we need to expand our space and our services so we’re going to go look for a new location,” said Melissa Baxter, the clinic’s executive director. “We’ve looked at anywhere between 10 to 15 properties and we’ve had three offers rejected from landlords thus far.”
The clinic is a primary care clinic and serves many people experiencing homelessness, living in poverty and dealing with substance abuse disorder.
Baxter said while they’ve never been told directly, there is an assumption there is stigma attached to who is being treated at the clinic.
“Well, I can only make an assumption. Nothing has been confirmed, however, as we’re all aware there is certainly stigmatizing attitudes when it comes to experiencing poverty or living in homelessness,” Baxter said. “We’re just assuming that perhaps this is playing into our search for a location.”
Baxter told Global News Wednesday that people are being turned away as staff pack up the clinic, and said it is frustrating to have to do.
The clinic will use its mobile van to help serve as many patients as it can, but that’s not a permanent solution, she explained.
The $225,000 used to purchase the van and outfit it as a mobile clinic were paid for by Medavie, the Saint John Human Development Council and private donations from physicians from Horizon Health Network in July 2022.
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“It’s mind-boggling that we have reached this point where we actually have to close our doors and we don’t have a place to provide our services,” Baxter said.
She said it is difficult to say when the clinic could find a new space to lease, and that is worrying to Baxter. It has looked outside of the downtown core, too, meaning services would be farther away from people who need them.
“We’re going to have to come up with some sort of solution,” she said, adding this will likely place additional strain on hospitals and emergency departments in the city.
Baxter made a plea on Wednesday to decision-makers and any landlords who might be able to open a space for them.
“If there are benevolent, compassionate landlords out there, we need to provide a well-established, much-needed medical service, so we would welcome anyone to communicate with us.”
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