Under the direction of Dr. Smita Pakhale, leading clinician-scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, The Bridge was established to save lives through intervention and treatment. The Centre is on a mission to help people break the cycle of poverty and access better health.
The Bridge has built trust and engagement with Ottawa’s most marginalized communities, where trust is scarcely found. All of the Centre’s projects have strong indigenous representation and are representative of racialized communities, and Ottawa’s Vanier’s Francophone community.
One example of the Centre’s projects is the PROMPT project. PROMPT is a direct response to the alarming rate of smoking in Ottawa’s drug using community. PROMPT provided 80 people with free Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), Canadian Mental Health Association nurse counseling, peer support, and on-going life-skills workshops.
The majority of the people who participated in PROMPT not only reduced or quit tobacco use but also other substances such as fentanyl, heroin, and oxycontin. Over 30% improved their general socio-economic standing (new jobs, school enrollment, drug rehab enrollment etc.), and over 97% said they feel better, breath better and eat better.
The community at the heart of The Bridge is Ottawa’s homeless (at-risk for homelessness), low-income, drug using community. Community (peer) researchers are involved in every stage of the centre’s work from project design to implementation and knowledge mobilization. The Centre’s patient/peer engagement model is making a difference in real people’s lives.
Snapshot of Lives Changed
Many of our members have changed their lives for the better. They have returned to school to get their high school diploma, a major feat for some who dropped out at grade 6. Others went on to drug treatment and are now drug free and in recovery. Many work with us at The Bridge as members of our governing body making sure we are transparent and accountable to the community we serve.
All of our members have taken a step forward to improved health and well being.