St. Joseph's celebrates the grand opening of Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care
Throughout the day nearly 1,000 people from across Southwestern Ontario came to see the new facility and take a guided tour. The tours, a highlight for many, provided visitors with a unique opportunity to learn about the building's innovative design and the Forensic Psychiatry Program from those who know it best. Even the lead architect for the building was on hand to help with the tours.
The formal opening ceremony, attended by about 300 people, was led by local Elgin County historian and former Elgin MPP Steve Peters with participation of several dignitaries, including Premier Kathleen Wynne.
"It's a centre that's designed not just to treat mental health issues but to promote healing and recovery so patients can successfully return to their communities, because that is the point," said the Premier during her speech. "The centre represents that new way of thinking about mental health; a new perspective on patient care, one that's driven by compassion respect and hope."
Minister of Health and Long-Term Care Deb Matthews also expressed her support. "Excellence in mental health care has a long tradition in the community and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health will expand on that tradition."
Dr. Gillian Kernaghan, St. Joseph's President and CEO, commented on the journey that made this day a reality. "This vision has been studied, started, stopped, re-shaped and re-started for more than 30 years," she said. "Now, together, we can truly say, this is the time for mental health care and today marks a major destination point on this journey."
That destination, the opening of the new Southwest Centre, is a celebration of a new beginning and the promise of an exciting future ahead for mental health care.
But it was Batten who put it best. Knowing first-hand what this facility will mean for the future, his powerful and candid words brought perspective and purpose to opening and the audience to their feet in a standing ovation.
"When I see this building I am convinced that the individuals who will pass through here will be cared for on many levels. I hope these surroundings remind them that they are not abandoned or forgotten. When I see this building I know my community cares about mental illness. When I see this building I know society has compassion."