Mental health care shifts some inpatient hospital care to community-based care in South West LHIN – first major step announced today

Oct. 20, 2011

As part of the transformation of this region’s mental health care system, St. Joseph’s Health Care London announced today that the first 21 of 70 longer stay inpatient beds will come out of the hospital system effective December 8, 2011. This step is occurring with the approval of the South West Local Health Integration Network (South West LHIN). These steps are taken in close concert with other mental health care providers as part of a larger plan to enhance community treatment and supports aimed at enabling more people to successfully resume community living.

“Thanks to a great deal of careful planning and collaboration, people who were once deemed unable to live successfully at home or in other supportive settings are now making the shift. They and their families have been waiting a long time for our system to build the capacity to make these changes,” states Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, St. Joseph’s President and CEO.

People who have been in hospital for more than a year have been part of a clinical partners review, led by the South West Community Care Access Centre (CCAC). To date, this review and resulting individual care plans have resulted in 32 people already leaving long hospital stays. St. Joseph’s also invested up to $800,000 in a special Transition Care Team to help bridge care between hospital and community.

“The South West CCAC is pleased to have played a role in helping to facilitate this shift for patients by meeting with patients and their families to consider options for care in the community,” says Sandra Coleman, CEO. "Our teams have a strong relationship with care providers throughout the region and with St. Joseph’s.”

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a mental health care system where clients benefit from shifting care away from institutionalized, residential models to models of care that are focused on recovery and successful community living with community treatment,”  says Heather DeBruyn, Executive Director CMHA Elgin. “This is backed with an inpatient and outpatient specialty hospital and crisis care when needed.”

At the same time, the South West LHIN continues to identify where more community treatment and supports are needed across the region. A draft community capacity report is due to be presented to the South West LHIN board on October 26. The final report will be released in November. The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care has also contributed $2.9 million to help ensure care shifts are supported and any immediate gaps in services, as identified by the report, are filled.

“With the assistance and advice of our local community mental health and addiction providers, the South West LHIN is making new investments that will enhance our community mental health system,” says Michael Barrett, CEO, South West LHIN. “These investments have been made possible through funding provided by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and will create additional capacity in our community mental health and addictions programs and services. These investments will assist in providing safe and secure placement for clients as they move from hospital-based care to care within the community.”

For staff members at St. Joseph’s Regional Mental Health Care, this shift in care does mean the closure of one inpatient unit and job loss. Eight full time staff members received notice of layoff today.

“Thanks to a great deal of cooperation between leaders and OPSEU Local 152, we were able to keep job loss to an absolute minimum,” notes Dr. Kernaghan. “We have been able to hold some vacancies and offer early retirements where we can, and we are supporting everyone impacted by this change.”

The 21 bed reduction brings St. Joseph’s closer to its final inpatient service mandate in specialized mental health care. A new 156 bed and outpatient specialized mental health care hospital is slated to open in December 2014 and a new 89 bed and outpatient forensic psychiatry facility in Central Elgin will open in June 2013.  These new hospitals will offer inpatient, outpatient and outreach environments focused on recovery and rehabilitation, complimenting the care, teaching and research provided by St. Joseph’s specialized care teams.

Concludes Dr. Kernaghan, “These changes are complex and long-awaited. It is right that people experiencing severe and persistent mental illness have the hope, opportunity and supports needed to live with dignity outside institutional settings. As for St. Joseph’s, we remain committed to our specialized care responsibilities along with sharing our expertise and support across the region.”


For more information, please conatct:
Amanda Jackman, Communication Consultant
St. Joseph’s Health Care London
Phone: 519 646-6100 ext. 47155
For after-hours assistance please call 519.646-6100, and press “0” and ask for the communicator on call.

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