Orillia's Lighthouse opens on-site medical clinic at new facility

The Lighthouse, a shelter and soup kitchen in Orillia, officially opened its on-site medical clinic at its new facility on Tuesday.

Over the past year, the organization has partnered with Simcoe County Paramedics during the pandemic to provide care.

"The pandemic has really highlighted who is vulnerable in our communities and who the health care system might be missing," said clinic lead Dr. Anna Naylor.

The on-site clinic is available to anyone staying at the shelter or in supportive housing.

"The majority of the shelters that have clinics in them are in the city centres," said executive director Linda Goodall. "So we are finding that this is a little bit different, but this is a huge need."

Since 1992, the Lighthouse has provided housing and services to vulnerable populations.

According to a Simcoe County Point-in-Time count in November 2020, more than 500 people were experiencing homelessness.

"Physical and mental health needs are a huge need on helping people get back to wellness and into housing," Goodall said.

Naylor said the clinic and clinics like these would also help decrease numbers in emergency rooms.

"Often people will leave things for a long time if they aren't able to see a physician until it becomes an emergency, and that's how they end up in our emergency department," Naylor said.

While it's not staffed daily at this time, Simcoe County Paramedics will continue to work out of the clinic, in addition to Naylor.

Two additional doctors are also expected to start in October.