Three weeks after Jeff MacKinnon got married, he suffered a mild heart attack. He fell, hit his head, dislocated his left shoulder and herniated a disc in his neck. Chores around the house like sweeping, mopping, and lifting became impossible.
The chronic pain from this and other injuries brought him to the Hamilton Urban Core Community Health Centre (HUCCHC). He made an appointment with Dr. Reginald Gates, a chiropractor who provides free chiropractic treatments once a month to patients like Jeff.
“I can’t afford once a month, every month,” says Jeff. “I’m struggling. Because of all my injuries, I’m working at home, taking care of my son. This really is helping me, at least with my everyday life.”
Working in the community
Six years ago, Dr. Gates heard about this volunteer opportunity and jumped at the chance. “I keep coming back because I enjoy the interactions,” he says. “After working at this clinic, you feel so much better because you’ve been able to give something of yourself. The best part is the patients are so appreciative.”
Denise Brooks, Executive Director of HUCCHC describes their clientele: “Here in Hamilton, the highest levels of poverty, of marginalization, excluded and vulnerable are in the inner city.”
Many of Dr. Gates’ patients in the Hamilton inner city cannot afford a drug plan, so they are looking for alternatives to medication. The clinic’s other chiropractor, Dr. Michelle Leggat, adds that many of the patients have “addiction issues so there’s a lot of falls [and] a lot of spills.”
Sixty-seven-year-old retiree Julie Gordon has been a regular patient for the past five years. Her back pain started in the 1980s when she was working as a health care aide and injured herself lifting a patient. At that time, she was training to work for Canada Border Services.
“I missed half my training because I couldn’t sit. It was just awful. I went to the chiropractor and found [they] helped me to be able to walk right. I would definitely recommend it for anybody that has any kind of back problem, but they need to come more than once. Sometimes people will go once and they expect to be fixed overnight. It’s not an overnight cure.”
On the horizon – helping even more
Denise Brooks is looking forward to chiropractic playing a larger role in HUCCHC’s offerings: “I can’t imagine chiropractors not being here. As we move from this location to a new one — we have a building campaign and hopefully within the year we’ll be moving — one of the things that we talk about is space for chiropractic and to possibly expand that service.”
Dealing with pain is one of the key needs of the clientele. Given the HUCCHC’s wellness approach, having chiropractors on site to help deal with pain is a valuable addition for those who need care and have challenges accessing it. Having a multidisciplinary team under one roof also allows for on the spot referrals to each other.
To learn more about chiropractic community health initiatives like this one, click here.