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New mental health hospital in Halifax to offer day treatment starting in April

Click to play video: 'Nova Scotia opening first mental health day hospital' Nova Scotia opening first mental health day hospital
WATCH: Nova Scotia will be opening its first mental health day hospital to support those requiring intensive mental health supports. Alicia Draus reports – Mar 9, 2022

Nova Scotia has announced a new mental health hospital that will offer day treatment for people in the Halifax area, with an initial capacity of 10 patients a day.

When it opens in April, it will be the province’s first mental health acute day hospital.

Read more: N.S. social workers call for systemic overhaul of the mental health and addiction services system

According to government, the occupancy rates for inpatient psychiatry care in Central Zone, which includes the Halifax area, “regularly exceed 100 per cent.”

The new hospital will be at the Abbie J. Lane Memorial Building of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, and admissions will come through community mental health clinics and emergency departments.

“It will provide structure … short term stabilization and rehabilitation for acute care patients, allowing them to have all intensive treatments without losing social integration, which they will have by going home at night,” said Dr. Sanjana Sridharan, the head of acute consultation and emergency psychiatry with Nova Scotia Health.

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The hospital will have a team of mental health specialists, nursing staff and social workers. While the hospital will operate seven days a week, it will only have an initial capacity of 10 people a day. It’s anticipated patients will attend for an average of two weeks.

The province said the capacity is expected to expand in the future.

Meanwhile, it’s hoped the day hospital will support those experiencing psychiatric symptoms but do not require 24-hour inpatient support.

“We must make sure the right supports are available at the right time and right place to meet Nova Scotians where they are in their recovery,” said Brian Comer, Minister Responsible for the Office of Addictions and Mental Health.

Health officials said the concept is used in Ontario and in countries such as the United States, Australia and New Zealand.

Comer told reporters Wednesday that data on the pilot project will be collected over the next six months to a year, with the goal of eventually expanding the concept to other areas of the province.

“I think the demand is province wide to be honest. I think there’s Nova Scotians all through other zones who have significant challenges with addictions and mental health,” he said.

The day hospital is expected to cost $350,000 in the 2021-22 fiscal year, with an ongoing annual cost of $1 million.

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— With a file from The Canadian Press

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