May 23rd, 2018

New mental-health unit opens at St. Michael’s Health Centre


By Mabell, Dave on May 1, 2018.

Officials tour part of the mental-health unit opened Monday in a partnership of Covenant Health and Alberta Health Services at St. Michaels Health Centre. Herald photo by Ian Martens @IMartensHerald

Dave Mabell

Lethbridge Herald

dmabell@lethbridgeherald.com

A new facility has opened for southern Albertans with complex mental-health challenges.

Covenant Health and Alberta Health Services officials were on hand Monday to cut the ribbon at an updated 24-bed unit at St. Michael’s Health Centre.

“The addition of these beds means we are now providing care for those individuals requiring support to manage complex and challenging behaviours in a residential-care setting,” said site administrator Evelyn Myles.

“We are committed to creating a safe and supportive environment where those most vulnerable can flourish and live with dignity and hope.”

The main-floor units will be reserved for men and women with “significant histories of mental health and addictions,” officials said. People in that situation – currently living at home, in the hospital or another setting – have been screened for admission over the coming weeks.

About 50 new staff members have been recruited and trained to provide 24-hour care, they added.

Addition of the new program has resulted in the Bridges day program for seniors moving back downtown to space in the Lethbridge Centre. Located at St. Michael’s in recent years, it offers recreational activities, supervised group exercise and “a bridge” from home to supportive living so seniors may maintain their independence longer.

Patrick Dumelle, chief executive officer of the Edmonton-based Covenant group, described the new mental health program as a continuation of St. Michael’s 87 years of service in Lethbridge.

“It’s an example of how we’re continuing to adjust our services to meet the needs of our communities,” he said.

Since they began operations 150 years ago, Dumelle said Catholic-run health facilities in Alberta have been “helping people on the margins.”

“We are grateful for the opportunity to expand our services,” he said.

“Having an impact on the everyday lives of Albertans is at the core of our mission to service with compassion, innovation and collaboration.”

Dumelle and Katherine Chubbs, the health authority’s chief “zone officer” for southern Alberta, praised the ongoing relationship here between Covenant and the government service.

“The positive partnership AHS has with Covenant Health allows us to offer more enhanced care in the community,” Chubbs said.

“We are working with our partners to provide more care options for patients and their families,” a “key priority” in the south.

The 24-bed program will bring the St. Michael’s facility close to its 250-patient capacity.

While its long-term-care and supportive-care units serve the greatest number of patients, the health centre also serves dementia and palliative-care patients as well as those needing complex long-term care or longer-term rehabilitation.

With the new units opening, officials say St. Michael’s staff will grow to about 450, including full-time, part-time and casual employees.

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