Thursday, June 8, 2017

Parity would require more than 200 new mental health beds this year. -----------Asked about new beds, Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne talked a great deal without quite saying Calgary and the south would get any more. She concluded by agreeing that it’s “more beds if necessary but not necessarily more beds.”---------Not long afterward, the story changed. Payne sent out a statement saying: “We know that Calgary is dealing with severe capacity issues when it comes to mental health beds. As part of our overall strategy to address this issue, there are new beds coming for Calgary as well as the Calgary Zone. We anticipate these beds being opened before the end of the year.”------“It literally happens every single day in Calgary,” says David Swann, the Liberal MLA and former public health physician who wrote a report on mental health care for the government. “Just ask any EMS worker or police officer. They deal constantly with these extremely sick people. And there’s no place for them in the setting they need.” This crisis has been brewing since the mid-1990s, when Ralph Klein’s PC government closed hospitals, literally turning mental patients out into the streets. They were a sad sight, these confused people who suddenly found themselves wandering the inner city. The social cost of Klein’s debt-slaying was often Dickensian. More than two decades later, the city isn’t even close to catching up.






I am curious what the situation is for folks in rural Alberta if there aren't enough beds for Calgary as noted in this article. What do folks in rural Alberta do when they are in a mental health crisis? Do they get put in acute care beds rather than psychiatric beds? When do they get help from a psychiatrist then?
Or are they moved from their communities to Edmonton or Calgary? If rural psychiatric cases are moved to the two main cities does this not exacerbate the mental health bed shortage even more?


It’s a routine but tragic story in Calgary. A patient with severe mental illness is rushed to emergency, where a doctor pleads for urgent admission to a mental health bed.…
CALGARYHERALD.COM

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So as far as I can understand from the gibberish of the beds information is that there are 15 new mental health beds in Edmonton and maybe some for Calgary coming.
Hmm.. this seems rather few for the directed money provided by the federal government.
Where is the federal money being used?

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http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/braid-calgary-way-behind-in-mental-health-beds-but-edmonton-gets-more


Braid: Calgary way behind in mental health beds, but Edmonton gets more

Published on: June 8, 2017 | Last Updated: June 8, 2017 10:01 PM MDT
David Swann, who is a medical doctor, is the only provincial politician remotely up to speed on the fentanyl crisis, writes Chris Nelson.
David Swann, who is a medical doctor, is the only provincial politician remotely up to speed on the fentanyl crisis, writes Chris Nelson. IAN KUCERAK / IAN KUCERAK/EDMONTON SUN
It’s a routine but tragic story in Calgary. A patient with severe mental illness is rushed to emergency, where a doctor pleads for urgent admission to a mental health bed.
But there’s no bed available. The patient soon slides out the door, back to the shelter or the street, into the grip of the drugs and the booze and all the other things that fuelled the illness in the first place.
That way lies deeper sickness and another step toward death, or violence against others.
“It literally happens every single day in Calgary,” says David Swann, the Liberal MLA and former public health physician who wrote a report on mental health care for the government.
“Just ask any EMS worker or police officer. They deal constantly with these extremely sick people. And there’s no place for them in the setting they need.”
This crisis has been brewing since the mid-1990s, when Ralph Klein’s PC government closed hospitals, literally turning mental patients out into the streets.
They were a sad sight, these confused people who suddenly found themselves wandering the inner city. The social cost of Klein’s debt-slaying was often Dickensian.
More than two decades later, the city isn’t even close to catching up.
Swann notes a stunning imbalance in supply of mental health beds between Calgary and Edmonton.
The capital has 97 beds per 100,000 people. Calgary has just 67 per 100,000.
Swann says Calgary has 1,047 mental health and addiction beds, while Edmonton has 1,235.
On top of that, the NDP announced Tuesday that Edmonton is getting 16 new beds for mental health and substance abuse.
A new unit is being built at the Royal Alexandra Hospital. The province will spend $15.3 million on this expansion.
The Edmonton area, it has to be said, needs all those beds and more. But they’re no help to a Calgary patient in acute distress.
“In Edmonton, they tend to see their system as provincial, so the location of the beds is irrelevant,” says Swann.
“But the fact is there’s much reduced access for patients from the south. Edmonton doctors get preference for admissions.”
Calgary’s need is clearly more pressing, even before we consider the shaky state of the city.
The recession has brought deepening mental health problems, most obvious in a sharp rise in domestic violence.
The Calgary Counselling Centre had 300 more requests for help in January 2017 than it did the same month in 2014, says CEO Robbie Babins-Wagner.
New patients show a much higher level of stress than they did before the recession hit.
Agencies like Calgary Counselling do a wonderful job in slowing or preventing the onset of mental illness. But the need at the acute end of the scale keeps growing.
After Tuesday’s announcement in Edmonton, there was hope for something major in a news conference held in Calgary Thursday.
It turned out to be $750,000 to hire co-ordinators to pull together fragmented agencies serving the homeless.
“That’s very positive,” said Swann, “but, of course, it does nothing to deal with the crisis in mental health spaces.”
Asked about new beds, Associate Health Minister Brandy Payne talked a great deal without quite saying Calgary and the south would get any more.
She concluded by agreeing that it’s “more beds if necessary but not necessarily more beds.”
Not long afterward, the story changed. Payne sent out a statement saying:
“We know that Calgary is dealing with severe capacity issues when it comes to mental health beds. As part of our overall strategy to address this issue, there are new beds coming for Calgary as well as the Calgary Zone. We anticipate these beds being opened before the end of the year.”
Cheryl Oates, Premier Rachel Notley’s press secretary, noted that AHS has opened 30 beds in Calgary in the past two years for various types of mental health treatment. Only three, however, are for acute adult care.
Oates also said the additions planned this year will bring Calgary, and the wider south, close to parity with Edmonton.
Parity would require more than 200 new mental health beds this year.
That would be great. Also miraculous.
Don Braid’s column appears regularly in the Herald
dbraid@postmedia.com
Twitter: @DonBraid


Julie Ali · 
Troubling that there is so much need and so little is being done by the GOA.
Where is the money provided by the federal government going?
Why only 15 new beds in Edmonton? Why no new beds in Calgary? What about rural Alberta? How do folks with mental health issues in rural Alberta get the health care they need?

I still remember the emergency doctor at the Grey Nuns Hospital who told me that the lack of beds there was not her problem and to complain to the PCs. Amazing that even now after we have hired the NDP folks there is no sort of coherent mental health and addictions strategy that I can detect. Folks in crisis can't be sent home and should not be kept in emergency.

This is a human rights issue and an access issue. Why is it that someone with a heart attack can get immediate help but someone with a mental health "brain" attack --cannot get the same response by the system? Could it be that mental health services are the Cinderella services of the health care system?
LikeReply310 hrs
Dave Fryett
Not much new here, the NDP will always put Calgary way behind Edmonton. The Edmonton Ring Road is complete and has been functioning for over a year. The NDP dithered on the SW Calgary ring road and is only now just beginning to build part of it with a planned 2023 opening, the longest construction time possible to minimize any benefit to Calgary. As to the remaining unbuilt section, they won't start worrying about it until 2025. The NDP announced funding support to fix Yellowhead Trail through Edmonton. As to the Deerfoot and the stalled upgrades to the Glenmore Trail interchange, the NDP has done nothing. The NDP just announced a 5th hospital for Edmonton, Calgary still stuck at 4. The porvincial government bureaucracy has always been self serving and placed Edmonton projects first and Calgary last. Should we be surprised that hospital bed numbers greatly favor yet again Edmonton, no. I am only surprised that it took this long to come out. The greatest need is in Calgary.
LikeReply254 mins
Julie Ali · 
It is still troubling that one part of the province is being underserved. I don't see any reason for the disparity and the NDPCs need to do a better job of servicing all areas of the province. The Red Deer Hospital has been asking for expansion to meet the needs of the community for ages: http://www.edmontonsun.com/.../doctors-urge-expansion-of... Surgery delays, an overtaxed emergency department and the absence of cardiac catheterization lab are among a long list of deficiencies putting the health of central Albertans at risk, say the physicians, who are taking their fight public.
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http://www.edmontonsun.com/2017/02/25/doctors-urge-expansion-of-red-deer-hospital




Doctors urge expansion of Red Deer hospital


FIRST POSTED: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2017 06:26 PM MST | UPDATED: SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 25, 2017 07:26 PM MST
Red Deer Regional HospitalRed Deer Regional Hospital (DAVID THOMPSON HEALTH REGION)
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A group of Red Deer doctors is demanding provincial health leaders move ahead with a major expansion of the city’s hospital, a facility they say is plagued by persistent overcrowding and a lack of specialty programs.
Surgery delays, an overtaxed emergency department and the absence of cardiac catheterization lab are among a long list of deficiencies putting the health of central Albertans at risk, say the physicians, who are taking their fight public.
“This is something that has been in the making really for years, because we’ve always felt central Alberta wasn’t getting its fair share when it came to health care infrastructure and programs,” said Dr. Kym Jim, an internal medicine specialist. “We have decided the public needs to know about the issues we are facing.”
Jim said a dozen or more doctors are organizing a “state of the hospital” address on Tuesday afternoon in Red Deer, where they will make the case the region has failed to receive the investment it deserves.
Compared with some Alberta communities, Red Deer’s health facilities are relatively modern. While the main hospital building opened in 1980, three additions to the site were completed in 2005 followed by the new Central Alberta Cancer Centre in 2013.
Nonetheless, the doctors say facility space and program funding has not kept pace with massive population growth in the region in recent years.
Jim said the Red Deer Regional Hospital is now the major referral site for a population of at least 350,000, helping to make it the fourth or fifth busiest hospital in the province.
An Alberta Health Services report completed in 2015 said the 370-bed hospital had an immediate need for 79 new beds, an expanded emergency department, a handful of new operating rooms and other upgrades to provide proper patient care.
The report noted that surgeries have been frequently postponed due to a lack of available beds to house patients following their procedures.
Jim said there have also been recommendations to establish a cardiac catheterization lab, where tests are done to determine how well a patient’s heart is working. He said the lack of such a facility in Red Deer means patients have to travel to Calgary or Edmonton, and generally experience worse health outcomes.
Doctors have similar concerns about the absence of dedicated clinics to treat irritable bowel syndrome, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and other conditions, he said.
“Why can’t people in central Alberta have access to those programs closer to home?” Jim said. “We can easily deliver them here but we are not given the dollars.”
In both 2014 and 2015, AHS recommended a new hospital tower be constructed on the site with an estimated price tag of $750 million, and included the project among its list of top infrastructure priorities.
The tower was then dropped from the list in 2016, placed behind at least 21 other projects. Jim said it was that move that served as the catalyst for the doctors to begin speaking out publicly.
The demand for increased investment in Red Deer’s hospital comes at a time when the cash-strapped NDP government has been inundated with demands for new health infrastructure.
In Edmonton, both the Royal Alexandra and Misericordia hospitals have waited more than a decade for funding to replace overtaxed and crumbling facilities built in the 1960s. Those two projects alone have been estimated to cost up to $7 billion.
AHS provided a emailed statement saying it is currently involved in long-range planning for the central region to determine what health services will be needed in the next 15 years.
“Our central zone leaders recently met with the Red Deer physician group and shared an update on the planning activities,” the statement said.
kgerein@postmedia.com



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