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Women's Health Services gets green light for Social Care Housing project near hospital

With a Land Use Bylaw amendment approved by Town of St. Paul council on July 25, plans for a Social Care Housing project that will offer pregnant women the option to birth and care for newborns outside a hospital environment, can proceed.
File photo

ST. PAUL - The Town of St. Paul has approved amendments to its Land Use Bylaw (LUB) to allow for Social Care Housing to be located near the St. Paul hospital, which in turn will allow for a local medical clinic to provide a unique birthing experience for expectant mothers. 

On July 25, Town council approved second and third readings of Bylaw 2022-08, which is a text amendment to the LUB. Social Care Housing will consist of "a single detached dwelling where the occupants are living on a temporary basis and are provided with specialized care in the form of supervisory, nursing, medical, self-care, learning, lactation consultant, counselling, or homemaking services," according to the bylaw.

Social Care Housing shall only be located within 50 metres of the established hospital, and is described as offering a home-like atmosphere and family-centered space for labour, birth, and post-delivery care, as prescribed within the Social Care Housing definition.

In a proposal for the bylaw, Town administration described the idea behind the LUB amendment, which was to provide a simple and streamlined way to introduce Social Care Housing to the community, but in a very specific way.

"In meeting with the developer initially, there was a desire to expand the use description itself and to allow the use more widespread within the community, but realizing this was a new idea for the community that it may be best to proceed in phases," reads information provided to town council at the June 27 Town of St. Paul council meeting.

The Social Care Housing site will be located at 4801-48 Avenue.

A business plan was presented to Town council at the June 27 meeting, which described how the clinic, Women's Health Services, started in St. Paul as the St. Paul Women's Clinic in 2010.

"The clinic has a team of excellent staff committed to the care of women against all odds. We believe 'women are already special, we just make them feel so' and we work passionately to make sure that is the case for every woman we attend to," reads the business plan.

The vision to create Women's Heath Services came from the desire to reach out to more women and find ways to make women feel comfortable in an increasingly complex medial environment, states the business plan further. 

According to the clinic, more women are asking for less hospital intervention when it comes to birthing their babies. Also, the global pandemic has made it so many women are anxious about leaving their homes to obtain care at clinics and hospitals. 

The pandemic also made for shorter stays at hospitals after women give birth, and many new moms are struggling with breastfeeding and managing their emotions, among other issues. 

Ultimately, the main goal of the clinic and the move toward Social Care Housing is to provide an alternative birthing experience, and "to bring women's health closer to women's homes."

The business plan provides a date of September 2022 in its organizational timeline. 

During a public hearing held on July 25 in council chambers, there was no written or verbal opposition to the proposed LUB text amendment. 

Dr. Florence Akindele, a representative from Women's Health Services, was in attendance at the meeting, speaking in favour of Social Care Housing, along with Linda Sallstrom, STEP Economic Development Officer, who was also in attendance to speak in favour and "acknowledge Dr. Akindele's vision."

"I think this is an incredible opportunity," said Sallstrom.

"It's kind of like a dream coming true," said Akindele, further explaining that the plan is to offer women a more natural environment to birth and care for babies, while still being close to the hospital for safety reasons.

Coun. Brad Eamon spoke briefly in favour of the LUB amendment, saying it was a great proposal being put forward and in general a great idea for the community.

Mayor Maureen Miller also stated her excitement for the Social Care Housing initiative, and the many opportunities that it will offer expectant mothers. 

Second and third readings of the bylaw were carried.


Janice Huser

About the Author: Janice Huser

Janice Huser has been with the St. Paul Journal since 2006. She is a graduate of the SAIT print media journalism program, is originally from St. Paul and has a passion for photography.
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