After months of delays, a timeline is in place to open a temporary mental health unit in the emergency room at Saskatoon’s Royal University Hospital (RUH).
A Saskatoon Health Region media release said renovations to support the assessment unit will start this month, and are expected to take three to four months to complete.
The renovation will also include improvements to the two existing secure mental health rooms at RUH.
Originally slated to open this fall, the seven-bed unit is set to provide a safer, more appropriate space for patients, ensuring their surrounding environment does not further impact their mental well-being.
“Mental health and addiction issues touch the lives of many Saskatchewan people,” Saskatoon Health Region CEO Dan Florizone said in a news release Wednesday.
“With this new unit, I am confident mental health and addictions patients in this province will receive the best care in the most appropriate space. Our patients not only need safety, privacy and comfort, they deserve it.”
The renovation will be covered by a $1-million donation from the Dubé family, gifted earlier this year, through the Royal University Hospital Foundation.
The Saskatoon Health Region will absorb the around $1-million operating costs related to this project. Capital costs will be fully funded by the RUH Foundation.
“It’s certainly overdue from our point of view in the sense of how patients and families have been really asking for,” said Head of Psychiatry Marilyn Baetz.
Last month, patient families and members of Saskatchewan’s New Democratic Party gathered to push for answers on the RUH unit. Up until Wednesday’s announcement, its opening had been delayed indefinitely.
The health region did not provide details on why the unit was delayed in its release.
The temporary assessment unit will be in operation until the new Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital (JPCH) is opened in late 2019.
The JPCH adult emergency room will include private spaces the province says are more suitable to mental health emergency care, in addition to mental health assessment services.