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Protest against clinic closing fizzles out

Protesters who promised to shut down Main and Hastings streets for the third straight evening yesterday failed to materialize, leaving police and transit officials checking their watches and twiddling their thumbs.

Protesters who promised to shut down Main and Hastings streets for the third straight evening yesterday failed to materialize, leaving police and transit officials checking their watches and twiddling their thumbs.

Rallies were held during rush hour on Monday and Tuesday to decry the closure of the Health Contact Centre, which was shut down on May 3.

Protesters said they would block the intersection from 4:30 to 6 p.m. every day, but they were a no-show yesterday.

The Health Contact Centre opened in the Roosevelt Hotel in 2001 to provide vulnerable clients with a point of contact with nearby health and social services, as well as primary wound care, washrooms and public phones.

Protesters claimed the centre provided much-needed emergency care, but a spokesperson for Vancouver Coastal Health said the centre was offering services being mirrored nearby.

“Since (2001) a lot of (new) services have increased in the four-block area,” said Anne-Marie D’Angelo.

Those other services include the supervised injection site, a detox facility and Washington Needle Depot, a 24-hour needle exchange that provides referrals, support, outreach and alley patrols.

The Life Skills Centre provides showers and Pender Community Health Centre offers health care.

“These are all things the Health Contact Centre didn’t have,” D’Angelo said.

The closure will save Coastal Health upwards of $1 million, which is being reinvested elsewhere.

D’Angelo added that the centre was closed for several months in 2008 and there was “no health impact on the clients whatsoever.”

“They were able to find these other resources on their own,” D’Angelo said.

 
 
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