A nine-bed emergency psychiatric unit will open at St. Paul’s Hospital this week.
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake announced the new Acute Behavioural Stabilization Unit today (March 19), which will be open 24 hours a day and will consist of short-stay admissions of up to 48 hours.
The initiative was part of a plan released by the provincial government in November 2013, in response to a request from Vancouver’s mayor and police chief for more support for people with severe, untreated mental illnesses.
An “Assertive Outreach Team” has also been established to support patients with severe addictions and mental-health issues and to help them transition from emergency rooms to community care.
"The Vancouver team is the first of its kind in B.C. and, combined with the expansion of services at St. Paul's Hospital, we will be able to provide more complete and supportive care to this vulnerable patient group,” Lake said in a news release.
The outreach team, which is a joint initiative between Vancouver Coastal Health, the Vancouver Police Department, Providence Health Care, and Mental Health Emergency Services, consists of a nurse, social worker, psychiatrist, physician, and VPD staff.
The new St. Paul’s unit will incorporate emergency doctors and nurses, psychiatrists, social workers, and other staff. The facility includes seclusion and interview rooms.
"Addressing the interplay that often exists between severe addiction and mental illness is an important step to ensure we can provide appropriate care to this vulnerable population," stated Dianne Doyle, the CEO of Providence Health Care.
According to Anna Nazif, the medical director of emergency psychiatry at St. Paul’s, the hospital has seen a 63-percent increase in patients with mental illness and addiction issues since 2009.
Recommendations issued by Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson and police chief Jim Chu in September 2013 included a crisis centre at a local hospital and 300 long-term mental-health treatment beds.