St. Paul’s Hospital is Downtown Vancouver is being described as the epicenter of the drug overdose crisis, with health officials warning its emergency department is badly overburdened.
Emergency department head Dr. Dan Kalla says they record 10,500 visits a year for substance abuse and mental health, the highest in the country.
Just last weekend 29 mental health and addictions patients presented to the ER at the same time, with only 25 acute care stretchers available.
“Our mental healthcare patients deserve more privacy, they deserve more respect than they get in a public waiting room, and the rest of our patients who are ill with other illnesses do not need disruptive aggressive behaviour around them to feel threatened.”
Mental Health Hub
With the hospital straining under the weight of the fentanyl crisis, officials are pitching the idea of a “mental health hub” on site.
Modular structures would be built in the courtyard, which now sits empty.
Officials say it would free up the emergency room and create a space dedicated for mental health and addictions patients.
It already has support from the Vancouver Police Department.
Superintendent Darryl Wiebe says right now there is a gap in transitional services.
“Piggy backing on top of that is the Vancouver Police Foundation transition centre which is designed to provide a bridge. It’s going to enable people who are discharged from hospital to have 36 to 48 hours where they can have a shower, have a place to sleep, get some clothing, and connect to other community mental health and addictions services that are available to them.”
Providence Health Care is asking city council to contribute $1-million for the project.