New Exchange District clinic offering unique health services

An award-winning multi-service medical clinic has set up residence in the Exchange District. Our Own Health Centre opened its doors on February 1st, 2016, at 286 McDermot Avenue. This non-profit corporation is accepting new patients as well as walk-ins. Our Own Health Centre will also cater to a portion of the population who may be under-served.

Dr. Bryan Magwood is the executive director of Our Own Health Centre. According to Dr. Magwood, international, national and local research has shown that significant portions of gay and bisexual men do not tell their doctors about their sexual orientation or sexual activities.

“Often this is based on their fear of judgement and discrimination, and in many cases, this is a very valid concern,” said Dr. Magwood. “But even if a physician is accepting of gay or bisexual patients, it is not often the case that he or she is well-versed in the nuances of care for this patient population. So, both stigmatization and a lack of specialized knowledge can have massive implications for the health of not only gay and bisexual men, but also for their partners and society in general.”

In 2014, Roger Tam, their clinical pharmacist, on behalf of Our Own Health Centre received the National Commitment to Care Award for Charitable Works from the Canadian Healthcare Network. This prestigious award was given to them for their work in providing a welcoming and safe space for gay/bi/trans/two-spirited individuals to access services without discrimination or feelings of shame.

“With our health centre located steps from the Canadian Human Rights Museum…this award underscores our core belief that healthcare is a human right for all regardless of sexual orientation,” said Tam in his acceptance speech.

Dr. Dick Smith, medical director at Our Own Health Centre, said Winnipeg medical facilities generally try very hard to be accepting of gay and bisexual men, but the clinic feels there is a need for a culturally appropriate clinic where they can be sure of a positive, accepting response.

“We have expertise in the particular health issues that many gay men face,” said Smith. “We also believe we get honest feedback from our patients and can get the message across about the various things we can do to prevent ill health in ways which connect with members of this community.”

Our Own Health Centre believes strongly in preventive health for the gay/bisexual/transgender community as well as the general public. The clinic has a kinesiologist who offers fitness assessments and advice, a pharmacist who provides medication reviews and smoking cessation programs, and a sexologist. One of their physicians has particular expertise in minor surgery, such as treating ingrown toenails, removing skin cysts, warts etc. They also expect the pharmacy adjacent to the clinic to reopen soon.

In the future, Our Own Health Centre plans to open an on-site space for fitness teaching and classes, offer more services by medical specialists and high resolution anoscopy is on their radar as a modern means to detect early cancer. They also hope to hire a social worker and therapist and massage therapist.  This would make the clinic a one-stop-shop for health services in the Exchange District.

“The Exchange has become a fantastic part of our city which brings together international corporations in gleaming towers, small businesses in historic buildings, vibrant visual and performance art scenes, fantastic bars and restaurants, trendy shops and unique living spaces,” said Dr. Magwood. “We are thrilled to be part of all this excitement and to contribute to the wellness for all of those who work, play and live in this fantastic part of Winnipeg.”

The Exchange District BIZ is so excited to welcome Our Own Health Centre to the district. Not only are they providing a much-needed service to individuals seeking health services, they also fit right in to the neighbourhood. They already have plans to creatively contribute in their own way to special events in the Exchange such as Nuit Blanche.

“It feels great to be in the most happening part of town,” said Dr. Smith. “It’s central, there are many bus routes (we are keen on green) and parking is always available and not far away. It is also an advantage to us that there is a real need for a clinic and a pharmacy in the area.  Hence our new slogan, “Our Own Health Centre – your clinic in the Exchange”.”

Our Own Health Centre is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.