Beloved creator of John Barsby Wellness Centre receives top honours

By Spencer Sterritt
May 9, 2018 - 7:55am Updated: May 9, 2018 - 10:43am

The John Barsby Wellness Centre makes it easy for students to visit doctors and counsellors, which wasn't happening before due to time and distance issues.VIMHS

NANAIMO - Three years ago, pediatric doctor Wilma Arruda tried something never done before locally to bring more health services to youth in need. Now she’s being honoured by the American Academy of Pediatrics and her innovative ideas are gaining traction across the country.

She founded the John Barsby Wellness Centre to bring nurses, doctors and counsellors right into the school, since Arruda rarely saw students going to their family doctors.

“It’s hard for people to get their health care needs met,” Arruda told NanaimoNewsNOW. “It’s during school hours, they have to get their parents to drive them or they maybe want to talk about something privately and don’t want their parents to even know.”

Over time, Arruda has seen more and more students overcome their hesitation and visit the wellness centre.

“They’re starting to take more charge of their needs and recognizing there’s a place they can go to. There’s a trusting relationship there...They’re not feeling it’s a difficult or confusing thing.”

She said trust is the key foundation of the wellness centre, since students are in a confusing time of their life and need stability to succeed.

It took years for the wellness centre to become a reality but the idea is catching on across the province. A similar model is used at Nanaimo District Secondary School, as well as a small number of Vancouver Island schools.

Arruda said there’s interest and desire in the program at all levels, but is a matter of funding and time to open the doors of wellness clinics in all B.C. schools.

Vancouver Island’s chief medical health officer Dr. Richard Stanwick is also receiving honours from the American Academy of Pediatrics.


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On Twitter: @spencer_sterrit


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