Dedicated downtown Vancouver mental health unit opens
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake during the announcement of the Acute Behavioural Stabilization Unit at St. Paul's Hospital in Vancouver, B.C. on Wednesday March 19, 2014. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
A dedicated section has officially opened at St. Paul’s Hospital for cases of mental illness and addictions that previously saw patients treated in a cycle of “revolving doors.”
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake said Wednesday the new $1.85-million acute behavioural stabilization unit would operate with referrals based on individual assessments by police and emergency room officials.
The section includes nine beds, “seclusion” areas for patients to calm down, interview rooms to give staff and patients one-on-one time, cameras and other changes to proof the room from objects that could cause harm.
Patients would be able to receive treatment there for up to 48 hours.
Providence Health Care said up to 8,500 people annually could be treated for mental illness issues at St. Paul’s.
Vancouver police Supt. Dean Robinson said that in the past, police would drop off mental health apprehension patients at hospitals.
“Very often, we would encounter that same person only hours later … in the street in the same situation they were in,” he said.
“It wasn’t highly efficient.”
The new unit — estimated to cost $2.1 million annually — is in addition to a temporary “outreach team” already established that links officers and health-care providers to connect support services to those who need them.
One of the problems in the past, according to Providence’s Dr. Anna Nazif, was how treatment of those suffering from mental illness had lacked proper co-ordination.
“(Now) it’s one team,” she said. “We can assess them more quickly and keep them calm, and we can either move them into patient care or move them out into the community faster.”