One-stop shop for child health

Child development services for Kootenay kids are available under one roof


On April 2, 2012, after almost three years of strenuous fundraising efforts, the Kootenay Child Development Centre (CDC) held its grand opening. About $50,000 is still needed to complete the work on the exterior of the building and purchase a sound system and an improved phone system, but services are in place and children from the Kootenays are receiving care.

The Kootenay CDC houses two pediatricians, the East Kootenay Infant Development Program, Over the Rainbow Family Services, East Kootenay Behaviour Intervention Program, Healing Hearts Counseling, Children First, a professional counsellor/art therapist, and East Kootenay Children First. Patricia Whalen, manager of Children First and fundraising co-ordinator for the Kootenay CDC, said that the two office spaces without permanent tenants are used for visiting therapists such as occupational and physical therapists and speech pathologists. They hope that the new facility will at some point attract a full-time child psychologist.

More convenient and less costly

“We have a lot to offer,” Whalen said. “We’re already seeing the benefits of having all of these disciplines under one roof, especially for the pediatricians—if they have to refer, then the services are all in the same building, and it makes collaboration and meetings a lot easier and more efficient.”

Throughout the Kootenay region, parents of children with challenges are relieved to have this referral and treatment centre available close to home. The time and costs of travelling to larger cities for medical care have always been additional stressors for these families, and the convenience of accessing these services close to home means a lot.

It means that for the patient’s second visit, multiple appointments can be arranged for the same day; this is especially convenient for local working parents and for families travelling from the outer edges of the Kootenay region. It’s one-stop shopping for health and development for kids.

“Our service providers are just thrilled to be under one roof,” Whalen said. “It makes the provision of services so much easier for everyone—including the families—and quicker, and more personal.”

Whalen said that children love the centre.

“When I see the children coming through the centre, they are noticeably excited about the new building,” she said. “They’re grinning and bouncing and not scared. The paint colours on the walls have quite an effect—it’s such a cheery place. We’ve got great toys in the waiting area, though we do need to add a few more things to our collection.”

Supporters are key

With a price tag of $1.1 million, it has taken a lot of community support to get the centre up and running. Teck Coal, the provincial government and Columbia Basin Trust have been significant funders for this much-needed facility. The service clubs of the Kootenays have been very generous, as have several large corporations and many small businesses and individuals. Whalen said that after the capital portion of the project is paid for, they will continue to raise funds for program and service enhancement.

Mopars in the Mountains is the centre’s new annual fundraising event, and donations from businesses and individuals are gratefully accepted at any time.

“Eventually,” said Whalen, “once the mortgage is paid down, we would like to provide this facility to the tenants rent free, so that they can take the rent funding and put it towards their programs. This is being done at the Vernon CDC, with great success.”

Marie Milner

Marie Milner is a writer and photographer for Kootenay Business magazine and several other publications. She appreciates the inspiration that she gets during her interviews and hopes to share that inspiration with you. View all of Marie Milner’s articles

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