Students benefit from school-based access to health care at new John Barsby Wellness Centre

February 26, 2016

NANAIMO—Youth who attend John Barsby Community School in Nanaimo can now have their health and wellness needs met without leaving the school grounds.

Since September 8, 2015 the John Barsby Wellness Centre has had more than 300 visits from students for a variety of reasons such as stress management, relationship, family support and sore throats. Today, the partners who collaborated to open the Centre gathered to celebrate its official opening with John Barsby students and staff.

“The new John Barsby Wellness Centre is a perfect example of what we can achieve when we work together,” said Children and Family Development Minister Stephanie Cadieux. “This partnership has led to the creation of a centre that’s supporting the positive mental health and well-being of both current and future students.”

“It’s great to hear this Wellness Centre is a success in helping youth access care in a safe and familiar setting,” said Michelle Stilwell MLA for Parksville-Qualicum. “Research indicates that placing health and wellness services directly into schools makes youth more likely to seek out those services, leading to healthier students and improved educational outcomes.”

The John Barsby Wellness Centre team consists of Public Health Nurses, physicians, administrative and social work staff who work with youth to deliver a wide range of on-site low-barrier and integrated wellness services. These include mental health and substance use services as well as education about nutrition, sexual health and community programs. Services are available to all John Barsby Community School students.

Island Health’s Medical Director of Pediatric Services, Dr. Wilma Arruda, initiated the wellness centre project. As a pediatrician, Arruda was an early champion of youth-focused care in the community.

“The John Barsby Wellness Centre team works with youth to deliver strength-based, holistic and client-centered wellness,” said Dr. Arruda. “The success of this model to date is evidence that we are achieving our vision of empowered, healthy, and resilient youth.”

Dr. Sheila Findlay is the co-Medical Director at the JBWC and chair of the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice.  Findlay says she is “excited about the contribution the Division was able to make in enhancing access to family physicians for Nanaimo’s youth.”

Island Health and the Nanaimo Division of Family Practice (through A GP for Me and the Child Youth Mental Health and Substance Use Collaborative initiatives - partnerships of the Government of BC and Doctors of BC) have collectively contributed over $270,000 to the JBWC project. Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools has generously provided in-kind contributions of space, staff time and committee leadership.

Community partners include the Ministry of Children and Family Development, Tillicum Lelum Aboriginal Friendship Centre, the First Nations Health Authority, Snuneymuxw First Nation, UBC family medicine residents, local general practitioners, pediatricians and nurse practitioners, Vancouver Island University, the Nanaimo RCMP and many other community supporters.

“Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools is very pleased to be a partner in this initiative,” said Assistant Superintendent Bob Esliger. “In addition to providing immediate care, it is my hope that we will be able to soon turn our attention to prevention. It is important that this initiative provides services to students that are educative in nature in order to build student capacity in the areas of both physical and mental health.”

Sydney Deimert, a student at John Barsby Community School, sees the JBWC as a positive place for youth. “The wellness centre is more than just a medical clinic, it’s a place where strong, trusting relationships are built,” said Deimert.

Media contacts

Island Health
Valerie Wilson
Manager, Regional Communications

Nanaimo Division of Family Practice
Dr. Sheila Findlay
Co-Medical Director, JBWC and
Chair, Board of Directors

Nanaimo Ladysmith Public Schools
Dale Burgos
Director of Communications
250 741-5273