Specialized clinic for gay and bisexual men up and running
LEXI MYERS, CONTRIBUTOR
Our Own Health Centre (OOHC) opened on Feb. 1, 2016 and is a non-profit specialized health clinic for gay and bisexual men located on the corner of McDermot Avenue and King Street. The clinic is also open to the general public, but is meant to give, as clinical pharmacist Roger Tam puts it, “men who have sex with men a safe place.”
“It’s a specialized health centre of excellence open to everyone,” said Tam. “We chose the Exchange District because it’s central, and we see a vibrant community in this area so densely populated and growing.”
OOHC is also a health care centre for family medicine and sexual health care with specialized services. The centre gives patients access to routine and urgent health issues, daily STI testing, minor surgery services, fitness evaluation, smoking cessation assistance and sexology consultation.
The centre won the Commitment to Care & Service Award in 2014 from the Canadian Healthcare Network. It is one of three clinics in Winnipeg that’s offering a rapid HIV test, which uses a blood sample and provides results within 15 minutes.
Branden Meier, a student at RRC, thinks a specialized centre is unnecessary because they [gay and bisexual men] shouldn’t be treated differently.
“I understand that it will most likely be used to make them feel more comfortable when dealing with health issues, but we should focus on making them feel more comfortable and accepting them, than segregating people who are homosexual or bisexual,” said Meier.
The health centre only has one location and Tam said they don’t have plans to open more.
“It’s best to provide services in one location over many, and it’s close to academic areas like Red River College,” said Tam.
The centre is open six days a week and stays open until 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings.