One year later… Mental Health unit still closed


A lot can change in a year: A new prime minister, the refusal  of county-wide amalgamation…

A year ago today, August 3, the inpatient clinic in the Aberdeen Hospital closed for what was initially to be a three-month closure. After a year, it  has yet to re-open and discussions are still ongoing.

“The three south unit that was at the Aberdeen Hospital remains in its closure status that it has been for almost a year now,” said Samantha Hodder, director of mental health and addictions for Colchester, East Hants, Cumberland and Pictou counties. Hodder shared that detailed data is kept each day in regards to the status of mental health in the hospital’s emergency department.

Since the closure, two additional hires of mental health nurses for their crisis response team have come on board.

Hodder said from August 2015 to June 2016, after taking away patients that require involuntary care, which would not have been able to be handled at the Aberdeen Hospital, as well as the 44 per cent of patients who required another level of care and could not be admitted to that unit,  there would have been 31 patients using the unit. Under the new system, she said 15 of those have gone to Antigonish or Truro to receive in-unit mental health care and the rest have been redirected to units across the province.

“We have no final direction or decision. So we continue to operate under what was previously the decision, which is it is temporary,” said the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s Dr. Theresa Vienneau.

To absorb the extra patients from the Aberdeen, the Truro hospital had to increase their beds as well as staff.

“We are piloting and planning on implementing a treatment program that will provide an acute or semi-acute treatment for patients so… that needs can be met in their own community,” Vienneau said.
Hodder said there are lots of factors that will go into the decision on whether to reopen the unit or not.

“We really can’t give a deadline on when a final decision will be made because we are still continuing to gather information,” Hodder said.

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