County councillors reaffirmed their support Wednesday for an expansion of mental health and addiction programs to serve Windsor and Essex County.
Hôtel-Dieu Grace Healthcare president and CEO Janice Kaffer told councillors that representatives recently requested funding from the province for two initiatives – a proposed mental health emergency department and an expansion of neuro-behavioural outreach programs.
Kaffer said the outreach program would work in conjunction with emergency medical services’ vulnerable patient navigators program and to facilitate earlier transfer into long-term care for seniors who can’t get placed because of behavioural issues.
She said 70 to 80 per cent of patients who attend emergency departments for mental health issues are not admitted to hospital.
“They could be and should be more expeditiously cared for in a patient-centred and specialized area that deals with mental health clients,” Kaffer said.
Bill Marra, vice-president, external affairs and executive director, said HDGH is ready to take the lead now and not wait for the proposed single-site hospital plan, which includes investment in other medical facilities, to be approved.
“What we’ve heard from the community is that we can’t wait seven to 10 years for mental health improvements so we’re starting to build that integrated system now,” Kaffer said.
Tecumseh Mayor Gary McNamara encouraged county mayors and councils to continue to pressure the province to provide funding.
Kaffer said the estimated cost is less than $8 million for both capital and operating expenses for the two initiatives.