Community Funding Gets a Government Boost to Make our Emergency Mental Health Service Expansion a Reality
Thanks to generous community funding and welcome support from the Ontario government, our Foundation is thrilled to share the expansion and redevelopment of the Hospital’s emergency mental health service is moving ahead.
On April 4, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, the Honourable Christine Elliott was at St. Joe’s along with local Member of Provincial Parliament, Donna Skelly, to announce more than $5 million in funding for the redevelopment project that will double the footprint of the service’s existing space, and benefit roughly 4,000 patients and families who arrive at St. Joe’s annually seeking emergency mental health and addictions care.
The Ministry funding will complement $3.5 million in donations secured through a fundraising campaign. An anonymous donor couple as well as leading local organizations and philanthropists: LiUNA, the Sam and Roma Mercanti Foundation, CARSTAR, RBC Foundation, St. Elizabeth Home Society, and SC Johnson have all made leadership gifts to this vital project.
Hundreds more St. Joe’s supporters also made gifts to the campaign over the past five years, including $1 million in funds raised through our community’s participation in fundraising events like the Around the Bay Road Race, St. Joe’s Holiday Gala, St. Joe’s Golf Tournament and the Foundation’s popular fall event, A Mental Health Morning.
“This project is a demonstration of what is possible when funding from the province is augmented by generous donations from our community,” says Sera Filice-Armenio, President and CEO, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Foundation. “It will ensure that St. Joe’s remains ready to care for the emergency mental health needs of our community as we emerge on the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic and address the anxiety, depression, substance use and PTSD that the pandemic has left in its wake.”
St. Joseph’s emergency mental health service provides care for a population of 1.4 million in Hamilton and surrounding regions. This specialized service supports patients over the age of 18 and has seen close to a 10 per cent increase in patient volumes annually, although this year there has been a more substantial increase in all age groups owing to the impact of COVID-19 on mental health and substance use disorders. This project has been a longtime priority for the Hospital and the community and was identified long before the pandemic.
In the current space there is little privacy and no room to streamline services. A young person experiencing severe anxiety and a panic attack could be waiting for care next to an adult diagnosed with schizophrenia who is in the midst of a psychotic episode. The types of intervention and levels of care these two patients require are radically different yet, right now, they are treated in the very same space.
The redevelopment will create two distinct care areas tailored to the individual needs of our patients: A Mental Health Emergency Department serving patients who are experiencing more severe mental health and addictions crises who need to be cared for in a more specialized environment; and a Mental Health Assessment Centre for those who would benefit from a less intensive, quieter environment.
The renovation project will also include bright and modern features to help encourage recovery. Increased windows will let in more natural light, natural finishes and colour schemes will provide a calming atmosphere, and dedicated spaces will welcome families and loved ones to be involved in care plans.
“This investment comes at a critical time for our community and those we serve. We know that expanding and improving access to high-quality mental health and addiction services is essential to our pandemic recovery,” says Melissa Farrell, President, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. “Ensuring we can deliver emergency mental health care to those in crisis in a compassionate and therapeutic environment is essential to healing and recovery. We look forward to continuing to work with all partners to expand and connect mental health and addiction care so that accessing care is easier.”