October 11, 2018 3:36 pm
Updated: October 11, 2018 4:25 pm

Charitable makeover at Alberta Hospital a preview of changes for mental health care in Edmonton

The upgrades to the mental health facility come at a time of rapid change to the mental health care system in Alberta.


Two common areas at Alberta Hospital received an aesthetic upgrade thanks to the generosity of Edmonton’s home building community.

Earlier this year, a member of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association recognized the need for a refresh at the aging mental-health facility after spending a great deal of time there with a hospitalized family member.

Global News
Help us improve Globalnews.ca
Story continues below

“It’s great to have warmer and friendlier spaces when you’re in this kind of situation,” said Greg Nakatsui, president of CHBA in Edmonton. “Hopefully it makes [the patients’] day a little brighter.”

“This is obviously a place where there are some challenging times, and we just hope that [refreshing the space] can do wonders for that.”

The Renovation

It took about three days for a team of about 100 skilled tradespeople and designers to overhaul the two spaces.

First was the Budzzz Bistro, a cafe used for patients to hang out with their friends or families, and for vocational skills training.

The bistro had an outdated colour pallet, and furniture in need of an update.


READ MORE: Alberta Hospital in Edmonton to receive charitable renovation

The team completely gutted that area, replacing the flooring, cabinets, counter tops, window treatments and paint. They used bright, inviting colours, wood textures and featured historic photos of the nearly century-old hospital in their design, as well as re-finishing tables and chairs.


Outside, in a courtyard adjacent to the youth wing of the hospital, another team did a major landscaping project. The new additions of gardens will be used in patient plant therapy, while youth patients will be able to contribute to a graffiti wall.



The medical director of Alberta Hospital, Dr. PJ White, said it’s important to have a good environment for his patients. The interest in providing a charitable renovation helped upgrade spaces, allowing Alberta Health Services to continue focusing on the larger-scale regeneration changes coming to mental health care in the Edmonton region.

READ MORE: Edmonton family calls for more access to mental health services in wake of son’s death

Mental health services changing

“It’s a symptom of everything that’s happening here,” White said. “We are in the middle of a wonderful period of planning and innovation. We’ve got a day hospital opening [at Alberta Hospital] in a couple of months, and that is going to make a huge difference not only to the patients here but in the whole region.”

“I’ve been here since 1989. This in the last two or three years has probably been the greatest rate of change that I’ve seen at this site in many, many years,” White said.

The 25-patient day hospital facility will see staff re-trained on day hospital care, allowing more Edmonton-area patients to sleep at home at night. There is also an ongoing strengthening of the educational relationship between Alberta Hospital caregivers and the University of Alberta Department of Psychiatry. 

Earlier this month, it was announced Alberta Health Services began construction on a 24/7 addiction and mental health clinic at Anderson Hall at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

“There’s a lot of work to be done yet on how we coordinate these services together, but really the focus is to have ease of access for our patients not just into the inpatient system, but the outpatient system as well.”

“That’s been an issue for a long time.”

Community support

Calls for change to mental health care in Alberta have been made for many years.

“When an individual is seeking addiction or mental-health support, there are many doors to walk through, and it can be difficult to determine which door is the right door,” said Dr. Verna Yiu, president and CEO of Alberta Health Services.

White said new changes like the day hospital and 24/7 access clinic will not only strengthen the connection between mental health professionals and those in need, but with every day Edmontonians as well, recognizing the positive effect it will have.

“I think the Canadian Home Builders’ Association [renovation] is a symptom, or an outcome of that connection. It’s very much a community hospital.”

The CHBA does one charitable renovation each year for an Edmonton organization in need, their way of honoring renovation month.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Report an error


Want to discuss? Please read our Commenting Policy first.