LETHBRIDGE – A new unit is preparing to open its doors at St. Michael’s Health Centre in Lethbridge, to help those in our community who haven’t been able to find appropriate care for their mental health and addiction issues.
Assuming everything goes according to plan, the 24 long-term care beds will begin filling up on Monday, May 7, and should be at full capacity by early June.
It’s part of a partnership between Alberta Health Services and St. Michael’s – which is operated by Covenant Health – to find the best possible level of care for people in needs, while also taking pressure off other healthcare resources.
“We know that in the South Zone especially, we do have a big gap in terms of mental health senior’s beds, so this is a great step for us,” explained Katherine Chubbs, Chief Zone Officer of AHS South Zone. “We know that patients who could be [at St. Michael’s] in these beds are sometimes in the hospital or in less appropriate settings, maybe not with the right groups that they should be with.
“They may be coming from their own homes, we'll have some that come from the hospital who are there waiting for a more appropriate place to live, and there will be people – they may be one-offs right across the city and outside the city – who should be in a place like this, but we didn't have the option before,” Chubbs added.
Covenant CEO, Patrick Dumelie, noted that most of the patients will be seniors, but that the beds will be open to anyone who meets the criteria.
“They're individuals who have mental health conditions, often have addiction issues, they mostly don't fit into other programs and services – they're quite complex in their needs and sometimes a bit difficult to serve,” he stated. “So, this will be a program that's dedicated to them and their needs and the complexity of those needs, with the idea of helping to restore their health with dignity.”
Those living in the new unit will have 24/7 support from a team of inter-professional staff, in the hopes of helping them with their mental health and addiction issues, whether its long or short-term.
“Each patient is unique, and their needs are unique,” said Dumelie. “Our goal is to restore the best possible health to these individuals. Sometimes that can change for individuals after a short period of time... and sometimes it maybe their permanent residence. It just depends on the client's needs.”
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