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Partnership increasing access to medical resources for unhoused in Greater Victoria

Easier access to medical supplies and equipment provided through Palliative Outreach Resource Team
Nurse coordinator Katie Leahy (left) and physician Dr. Fraser Black, shown in a pre-pandemic photo, work with the Palliative Outreach Resource Team (PORT). A new partnership aims to enhance PORT’s efforts to increase access to medical supplies and care for people experiencing homelessness. (Black Press Media file photo)

A multi-agency partnership wants to make it easier for people experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Greater Victoria to access medical supplies and equipment.

The partnership, which includes private donors, small businesses, the Victoria Cool Aid Society, Island Health and the University of Victoria, will provide timely access to medical equipment as well as installation and cleaning services through the Victoria-based Palliative Outreach Resource Team (PORT), according to a release from Cool Aid.

The team’s goal is to promote aging in place and independence for older adults, while reducing unwanted hospitalizations for people at the end of their lives.

“The equipment and supplies that our clients need aren’t always accessible without money, a home, transportation or support,” PORT nurse coordinator Katie Leahy said. The provision of such simple things as pads to prevent bed sores, non-slip mats and grab bars to prevent falls can make a person’s daily life more comfortable, she added.

The partnership has already helped outfit a PORT outreach vehicle with grab bars and a portable walker so clients can be safely transported to and from medical appointments. Thermometers have also been purchased through the partnership to help PORT meet and maintain COVID health and safety protocols.

One of the partners is Doug Riddell, owner of Vancouver Island Medical Supply, who came to know about PORT and its mission and was inspired to help out after a senior living above his store received support from the team while living with stage four lung cancer.

“Community members have supported me a lot over the years,” Riddell said. “When the opportunity came up to give back, there was no question.”

Riddell is providing, installing and cleaning equipment used by PORT clients, focusing on items such as power chairs and lifts that aren’t available through mainstream channels.

READ MORE: Mobile palliative care team launches for downtown Victoria’s homeless population

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About the Author: Greater Victoria News Staff

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