Opinions

The Marie Curie clinic
What I want to make clear about the clinic is how little has been made clear. Image: Rame Abdulkader/Fulcrum
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Another roadblock on a campus that is full of them

On Aug. 31, the walk-in clinic at 100 Marie-Curie on the U of O campus ceased operations. Until April 30, 2022, a Campus Same-Day Clinic will be run out of that location to meet student needs.

Of course, putting “University of Ottawa Campus Same-Day Clinic” into Google will not bring you much, and certainly not to a webpage with a scheduling function. And on the university’s health and wellness page, the “immediate support” tab is circular, and the one reading “visit the walk-in clinic” is a dead link.

“Same clinic, new name,” reads the cheerful banner on the ByWard Family Health Team’s — formerly the University of Ottawa Health Services — website.

Of course, the email students received on Aug. 30 regarding the closure doesn’t quite share the same sunny outlook. In a vague and somewhat contradictory statement, the email closes with the following: “The vast majority of our services will remain unchanged after May 1, however, this transition will bring a greater focus on the needs of the general community while uOttawa students will be encouraged to seek the health care from the new university clinic.” Same clinic? Guess not. 

Which services might change after May 1 is not disclosed. I would venture to guess that it has not yet been decided, considering that even the future of the Marie Curie location appears to be up in the air. All that is certain is that come May, the ByWard Family Health Team will be its own separate entity, servicing only its registered patients, and the university will be establishing its own health services. 

What I want to make clear is how little has been made clear. 

This campus was all too recently the site of a mental health crisis that took the lives of six students over the course of twelve months. And although we may not have received the dreaded email in a while, it doesn’t mean the crisis is over. I understand that the loss of the walk-in clinic does not mean that there will be no health services available on campus. However, on a campus that has been the recipient of ongoing criticism regarding its convoluted and inadequate mental health care system, this measure is yet another example of a dangerous lack of transparency and clarity

Seeking help for mental health is already a daunting prospect for those struggling, one complicated by stigma, financial concerns, and the nature of mental illnesses, which often make self-advocacy close to impossible. 

To lose the campus walk-in, is to lose the one place on campus where students in crisis could go for immediate support — no online forms, phone intakes, or months of waiting. As a student who used the walk-in clinic for mental health reasons, I know how easy it would’ve been to be deterred. I would not have had the resolve to commit to an appointment. Sure, the clinic had its own problems. But it was somewhere to go. 

Where to now?

Your guess is as good as mine.