Education assistant Caitlyn O’Brien

First year of Belmont’s sexual health clinic deemed successful

Every Thursday an average of 14 students will see the school nurse at the clinic, which is the first of its kind in Greater Victoria.

One hand goes for a lollipop while his other reaches to the shelf below for a condom. Within seconds, the Belmont secondary school student pops in and out of the school’s sexual health clinic, followed shortly after by another who comes in while his friend waits just outside the door.

“Do you want condoms?” he asks his waiting friend.

“Sure.”

As the school year comes to an end so does the first year of the Island Sexual Health Society’s clinic at the school. By all accounts it has been well received and well used by students. It’s free, confidential, done on a drop-in basis with no appointments necessary and most any kind of medical examination and testing can be done right in the school.

“There’s just such a need for that age group to access these services,” said Charlotte Brown, a registered nurse at the clinic.  “We’re meeting the needs of them.”

Walking into the clinic students are greeted with shelves of a variety of free condoms (flavoured condoms, female condoms, condoms in packages with packets of lubricant), candy (sour lollipops are the preferred choice) and a friendly assistant to talk to students and help them if they require further services.

Students are able to come to the clinic with most problems and never have to visit a doctor’s office. The clinic is there to give out information, but with a registered nurse on hand it can also administer pregnancy tests, pap tests, prescribe birth control and screen and treat students for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI). If students do need to be referred for other medical attention the nurse can do that as well.

The services the nurse provides are well used. Every Thursday an average of 14 students will see the nurse for a variety of reasons.

“A lot of school counsellors are really cool and have condoms and that kind of stuff, but kids just don’t feel as comfortable,” said Courtney Williams, administrative coordinator. “Whereas, with us, I think they can recognize that nothing is going to shock us, that we’re not going to judge them and that this is what we do everyday.”

The clinic is the first of its kind in a high school in Greater Victoria. The society runs a six-day a week clinic on Fort Street downtown, and a one day a week clinic in View Royal on Tuesdays. But Belmont has the only clinic like it in Langford and the only one specifically for students.

Credit for the idea goes to Sooke School District’s community liaison officer Scott Rothermel. He saw an existing nursing space existed that hadn’t been used in a couple of years. With the right contacts available to him, Rothermel made some calls and got the ball rolling.

“My key is always as much prevention as we can put in place in education the better, and why not sexual health as well?” Rothermel said. “We’d be foolish to think they aren’t active at all. They’re teenagers. So why not have for them the best knowledge and the best protection?”

Funding for the clinic came from a variety of sources, including one-time funding from Telus and West Shore Community Policing. They also got two-year funding from the United Way.

Island Sexual Health Society executive director Bobbi Turner estimated it costs about $10,000 to run the clinic for a school year. The society is still securing funding to keep the clinic going next year, but Turner is confident it will come together.

“It’s been really successful, there’s a lot of interest from the students, and also a lot of the community partners we work with … (have) said how important it is to have something like this.”

The reaction from students has been overwhelmingly positive, say staff, and there hasn’t been a single concern heard from parents, staff or anyone else.

“Our big thing is just making sure people have access to accurate information so that they can make the decisions that are going to be best for them,” said Williams. “We just want to be here for some place that they can come and get whatever they need, in terms of sexual health.”

news@goldstreamgazette.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Police closed McNeill Avenue after a workplace death Oct. 20, 2020. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
UPDATED: Dangerous branches delay removal of body in Oak Bay workplace death

Traffic restricted on McNeill Avenue near Byng Road

Vic High (Black Press Media file photo)
Vic High stadium plans drop promised 8-lane track to ‘barely wider than city sidewalk’

Friends of Vic High seek public inquiry into plans for Memorial Stadium Revitalization Project

A bear similar to this black bear was spotted on Elk Lake Drive on Oct. 20 and is believed responsible for killing a llama in Saanich the night before. (Black Press Media file photo)
Bear spotted several times in Saanich likely to be euthanized

Conservation officers still searching for bear reported near Elk Lake Drive

The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
The West Shore RCMP released these images of a suspect as part of its investigation into a report of sexual assault on Sept. 17. (West Shore RCMP handout)
Sexual assault suspect sought by West Shore RCMP

Police are looking for help identifying this man

(Black Press Media file photo)
Be prepared: Know what to do in the event of a Greater Victoria tsunami warning

Localized alert systems can provide potentially life-saving information

FILE – People wait in line at a COVID-19 testing facility in Burnaby, B.C., on Thursday, August 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
167 new COVID-19 cases, 1 death recorded as B.C. enters 2nd wave

Three new healthcare outbreaks also announced

Advance polls are open from Oct. 15 to 21 with election day on Oct. 24. (Black Press Media file photo)
This 2020 electron microscope image made available by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shows a Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 particle isolated from a patient, in a laboratory in Fort Detrick, Md. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-NIAID/NIH via AP
At least 49 cases of COVID-19 linked to wedding in Calgary: Alberta Health

McMillan says the city of Calgary has recently seen several outbreaks linked to social gatherings

UBC geoscientists discovered the wreckage of a decades-old crash during an expedition on a mountain near Harrison Lake. (Submitted photo)
Wreckage of possibly decades-old airplane crash discovered on mountain near Harrison Lake

A team of UBC geoscientists discovered the twisted metal embedded in a glacier

The official search to locate Jordan Naterer was suspended Saturday Oct. 17. Photo courtesy of VPD.
‘I am not leaving without my son,’ says mother of missing Manning Park hiker

Family and friends continue to search for Jordan Naterer, after official efforts suspended

Bernard Trest and his son Max, 10, are concerned about B.C.’s plan for students in the classroom. He was one of two fathers who filed a court application in August to prevent schools from reopening if stricter COVID-19 protections weren’t in place. That application was dismissed last week. (Contributed photo)
B.C. dad pledges to appeal quashed call for mandatory masks, distancing in schools

Bernard Trest and Gary Shuster challenged health, education ministries’ return-to-school plan

RCMP crest. (Black Press Media files)
RCMP cleared in fatal shooting of armed Lytton man in distress, police watchdog finds

IIO spoke to seven civillian witnesses and 11 police officers in coming to its decision

A 34-year-old man was treated for a gunshot wound in Williams Lake Monday, Oct 19, 2020. (Angie Mindus photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
Williams Lake man treated for gunshot wound after accidental shooting: RCMP

Police are reminding residents to ensure firearms are not loaded when handling them

A injection kit is seen inside the newly opened Fraser Health supervised consumption site is pictured in Surrey, B.C., Tuesday, June 6, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. records 127 fatal overdoses in September, roughly 4 each day

Vancouver, Surrey and Victoria continued to see the highest numbers of overdoses

Most Read