The Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre (KDCHC) began through a grass roots movement of Kitchener downtown residents. The community identified the downtown core as a specific geographic area containing a population with specialized needs. The population included a strong and growing concentration of immigrant families, youth, homeless and seniors. Together, this group shared an ever-increasing requirement for access to a different kind of healthcare. With inherent issues around language, culture and specialized health needs, a healthcare centre outside of the norm was necessary.

The idea for a new health centre was to create a different model with a novel approach to practice. Convenience of location, hours, types of healthcare and sensitivity to language and other issues were paramount to the project. In 2000, the Kitchener Downtown Community Health Centre (KDCHC) opened its doors to the residents of the downtown core.

Now beginning its second decade of practice, the centre uses a client-centric collaborative care model to provide clients the tools, services and information they need to manage and make decisions around their own healthcare choices. Working through a relationship-based lens, clients have a voice in the process and outcomes of their healthcare.  Balancing the centre’s resources and the healthcare community at large helps ensure clients receive the care they need and deserve.

While focused on education and prevention, the centre also provides a level of service particular to its unique clientele. Salaried physicians spend on average ½ hour with patients during appointment times. This length of time allows physicians to deal with issues that often arise during the visit around these complex populations. At times, translators are called upon to assist with language and/or cultural barriers that may otherwise impede successful treatment delivery. Other key areas of focus for the centre include helping clients successfully navigate the healthcare system and community development targeting the social determinants of health.