Call it a paradox of the Downtown Eastside.
The eight-block area has more pharmacies per capita than any other Vancouver neighborhood, but many female residents still leave to get their prescriptions filled.
With barred windows and pharmacists behind plexiglass, Downtown Eastside (DTES) pharmacies are worlds away from London Drugs or Shoppers Drug Mart. Most are small and provide little privacy to discuss health issues, a major drawback as pharmacists are many residents' primary -- and sometimes only -- link to the health care system.
The answer to the dilemma is Lu's Pharmacy for Women.
Named after 80-year-old Vancouver Women's Health Collective (VWHC) volunteer Lucette Hanson, Lu's is scheduled to open in the new year at 29 Hastings St. at Carroll in the 100-year-old storefront of a single room occupancy (SRO) hotel owned by Vancouver's Central City Foundation.
Renovated largely with sustainable and recycled materials, the 3,000-square-foot facility will be operated by the VWHC as a social enterprise, meaning the profits from the pharmacy will fund the nonprofit organization's social programs.
At Lu's, women will receive the specialized attention, care and support that they need and want. Women will have their prescriptions filled and get advice from a pharmacist, access primary care offered by a nurse practitioner, buy over-the-counter products, access health information and workshops, and use the space to gather and meet.
A grant from the BC Social Enterprise Fund, created and administered by BC SVP in partnership with Vancity Community Foundation and the Vancouver Foundation, has been instrumental in the renovation of the building and the beginning of this social enterprise. Stay tuned for more information about Lu's.