In healthcare, there are times when a patient needs to be in a hospital, and there are times when a patient can get the care they need elsewhere.
If you are recovering from surgery, or if you are getting better following a serious illness, it is likely you will reach a point where you can leave your hospital bed, and recover in a more appropriate setting.
It is the same with people with mental health or addiction challenges. There are certainly times when a hospital is where you need to be. And, there are times when a hospital bed is not what you need.
Next month, Alberta Health Services will open 15 new transitional mental health beds in Edmonton. These beds will be in home-like settings (five beds, each in three transitional homes).
The beds will be utilized by mental health clients who are no longer acutely ill – they have undergone their psychiatric treatment, no longer need acute psychiatric care, and are ready to transition back into the community, where they can continue their recovery.
They no longer need to be in a hospital, however they may require some further supports as they transition back into the community.
For example, they may need help with finding housing, or they may need additional education or work skills training. They may need temporary income supports or other financial supports, be connected to a family physician, or need further help recovering from an addiction.
And, they may need some help with life skills that most of us take for granted. These supports will ensure that they are able to continue their recovery in the community, and significantly reduce their chances of experiencing further health challenges.
These new community transition beds are part of a larger spectrum of new beds that will replace a 20-bed unit currently at Alberta Hospital Edmonton.
The Alternate Level of Care/Transition Unit at AHE opened in late 2012, but has historically not been fully utilized – beds are often empty - and the patients in these beds will be better served in supportive community housing.
This is not a cut in service. It is about better meeting the demands of patients by increasing the number of psychiatric intensive care beds in Edmonton, and providing better mental health services in the community.
In addition, the closure of the Alternate Level of Care/Transition Unit at AHE enables us to open a new purpose-built six-bed Psychiatric Intensive Care unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
And that in turn will allow us to re-open 12 adult acute mental health beds at the Royal Alexandra Hospital that have been closed during these renovations.
This is part of a significant investment in Addiction and Mental Health spaces in the Edmonton Zone. In February, we reopened four Safe Observation and Assessment beds at the Royal Alex, and later this year, we plan on opening six complex medical detox beds at the hospital.
These services will help us meet significant and growing needs in Edmonton, allowing us to better serve those with mental illness.
Patients will benefit - the change will result in a shift to the community and more home-like environments; and the creation of additional psychiatric intensive care in the downtown core for those who need a more intensive level of acute care.
This change will increase the number of Psychiatric Intensive Care Beds in Edmonton to meet the critical needs of residents requiring this level of Mental Health support.
The change will not result in job loss. There are vacancies in the Edmonton Zone for staff affected by this change.
Alberta Hospital Edmonton is an important part of the delivery of Addiction and Mental Health Services in Alberta and that will continue. It plays a vital role in helping those with mental health challenges in Edmonton, and Northern Alberta.
We are extremely proud of the care, treatment and support provided to our patients and clients at AHE every day, by our dedicated and skilled physicians, staff and volunteers.
We continue to invest in Alberta Hospital Edmonton. For example: