New referral agency in North Dundas, Merrickville-Wolford looks to help community with pandemic issues

The Access to Resources in the Community logo. (ARC via Newswatch Group)

NORTH DUNDAS – The pandemic is taking its toll on many and whether you have a financial problem, depression or both, a new service in North Dundas and Merrickville-Wolford is doing the heavy lifting to get you the help you need.

The Access to Resources in the Community, known as ARC, is running in both areas as part of an Ontario Ministry of Health trial. It’s being supported by a number of local businesses, pharmacies, schools and churches and community service organizations.

In an interview with Cornwall Newswatch, Project Leader Dr. Simone Dahrouge, an associate professor at the University of Ottawa, says the free service is meant to help anybody – especially the one third of the population with trouble knowing where to go.

“There are a lot of navigation services in our region but most of them are focused on specific populations – new immigrants or individuals with specific conditions. There wasn’t a navigation service that someone like you or me…(who) could avail themselves to help them find the service for them. A lot of people who were not really complex medically or socially…were kind of falling through the cracks,” Dahrouge said.

She says the ARC was previously run in a control trial against the free helpline Ontario 211.

“Not surprisingly, ARC was considerably superior in terms of patient experience because it’s more patient-centered in that the navigator works with the patient until they reach the service,” she explained. “As well, it had a higher likelihood of patients achieving the service.”

Dahrouge says the service has entered a new phase, dealing with pandemic-related needs and is able to help people with intertwined issues like money problems and depression.

“One of its strengths is that it’s not just a one problem navigation service because individuals are not unidimensional. It’s important that we use a whole person care approach.”

The ARC will be running until at least August and will be reviewed by the Ministry of Health during this “pragmatic trial,” meaning it will be based on existing data and won’t require users to fill out surveys.

You can contact the ARC through an online submission (click here and head to the “Self Referral” tab) or by phone at 613-227-6704.