New Hepatitis C clinic open in Niagara

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Posted Jul 28th, 2011

NIAGARA, ON: A new clinic is now open in Niagara for people who need testing, treatment and support for Hepatitis C.

The Niagara Health System (NHS) clinic is located at the New Port Centre, part of the Port Colborne Site, and there is a satellite clinic at the Ontario Street Site in St. Catharines. Members of the media are invited to visit the clinic in Port Colborne today from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. during the grand opening.

Services offered at this clinic include treatment for Hepatitis C infection, case management, and individual and group counselling. Staff includes a clinic coordinator, a nurse practitioner, a social worker and an outreach worker. Dr. Craig Kuhn provides physician support.

It is estimated that approximately 5,500 people in the Niagara region have Hepatitis C, which is spread through contact with the blood of an infected person. Most people do not experience symptoms when they first become infected, and symptoms may not appear until 10 or 20 years later when the disease has progressed. In later stages, Hepatitis C can seriously damage the liver by causing cirrhosis and liver cancer.

Patients can be referred to the clinic by their family physician, Niagara Region Public Health, and community health centres. Individuals who know they have Hepatitis C or believe they are at risk of infection may also self-refer by contacting 905-378-4647, ext. 32554.

Upon becoming infected with Hepatitis C, some people may feel ill for short periods, and in rare cases may become jaundiced (yellowing of the skin and eyes).

The NHS Hepatitis C clinic is one of 13 new funded programs by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care, Hepatitis C Secretariat.

QUOTES

This clinic will improve access in Niagara to this needed service and support. Many people infected with the hepatitis C virus can be treated successfully with therapeutic drugs. The support services we are providing will give people the support they need to complete treatment or manage their condition if they are unable to be treated due to their health or to treatment side effects.

- David Barry, Manager, Outpatient Addiction and Withdrawal Management Services at the Niagara Health System

We are thrilled here at the City of Port Colborne that the MOHLTC has recognized the importance of early detection and treatment of Hepatitis C. Dr. Kuhn is a dedicated and proactive physician here in Port Colborne, and the support and expertise he brings to the program is being recognized as an enabler for a better community-based healthcare servicing model of care. We look forward to the success of this program, and know that our citizens and healthcare system will benefit from the expert team of care providers at the Hepatitis C Clinic.

- Port Colborne Mayor Vance Badawey

Niagara Health System