A "wonderful" medical clinic at an Orillia shelter, that saw almost 1,000 people last year, got a much needed financial booster on Wednesday.
Officials from the Orillia Lions Club presented a cheque for $2,500 to The Lighthouse to help support the medical clinic at the Queen Street facility.
The funds were raised last year through the Orillia Lions Club Snowflake Series, a four-event winter running series organized by volunteers.
Michael Taylor, a volunteer organizer for the 31-year-old event, says the clinic at The Lighthouse is more than deserving of community support.
“One of the focuses for the Lions organization internationally is hunger,” he explained. “Certainly, under the guidance of The Lighthouse and what it’s doing in terms of that, having access to a clinic like this and medical services is critical for the clients.”
Linda Goodall, the executive director of The Lighthouse, said in 2022 the clinic was visited 998 times. Participants were cared for by nurses, paramedics, doctors, nurse practitioners, and foot-care specialists.
When asked by staff where they would have sought care without the clinic, 10 said an after-hours clinic, 110 said the emergency room at the hospital and 183 said they would not have received any care.
“The majority of those people are those who have a chronic illness,” Goodall said. “Eventually, they would have ended up in the hospital.”
Nancy Sutherland, the administrative lead for the clinic, says when the clinic was proposed and pleaded for, it simply wasn’t in The Lighthouse’s budget.
“They said we can’t add one more thing to the budget,” she said. “We said, 'We will find the funding,' and we have.”
When the clinic was first established in September 2021, an anonymous donor provided $10,000 to help get it going. The $2,500 donated by the Lions Club on Wednesday will be used for bandages, equipment, and other necessities for the clinic.
Charlene Taylor, an advisor to the clinic board and retired registered nurse, says it’s unusual for shelters to have a clinic.
“The ones that do have clinics often struggle for staffing,” she said. “To have a paramedic, a nurse practitioner, and retired nurses who are committed to being here, it's really wonderful.”
Chris Sheridan, who has been a participant of The Lighthouse for about five months, says the clinic has helped him immensely.
“The doctors have been great here,” he said. “They got me back on my feet and got my prosthetic going.”
When Sheridan first arrived at The Lighthouse, he says he was unhealthy. Thanks to the clinic, he feels like he is back to full health.
“They’ve done an amazing job here,” he said. “Without the clinic here, I wouldn’t know where to go for help and I would pretty much be stuck in a wheelchair.”