Hub for mental health and addictions treatment opens at B.C. hospital

A one-stop centre for people struggling with both mental health and drug addictions has opened at a Vancouver hospital, creating what the B.C. government says is a first-of-its-kind facility in Canada.

The St. Paul’s Hospital HUB is an acute medical unit that includes 10 patient beds, a nursing station area, supply room and a centre for rapid assessment, treatment and stabilization.

The program is meant to divert people who come into St. Paul’s emergency department, which the province says treats the largest number of patients with mental health and addictions challenges in B.C.

It says about 11,000 visits to the hospital’s emergency department every year are related to mental health or substance-use and the pressure has escalated on the hospital in conjunction with the opioid crisis.

Mental Health and Addictions Minister Judy Darcy says staff at the centre will be able to quickly assess and direct the patient to appropriate care instead of having them wait in the emergency room for hours and potentially told to go elsewhere.

The emergency department’s Dr. Dan Kalla says the 10 new beds dedicated to the HUB is a significant step but won’t be enough to answer the needs of all those who need care.

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