An observation room for psychiatric patients in distress is going to be built within the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre in Masset. (Photo courtesy Northern Health Authority)

Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital to get secure room for psychiatric patients

Cost anticipated at close to $1 million for Masset hospital

The Northern Health Authority is to spend nearly $1 million to build a secure room for psychiatric patients at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital in Masset.

Called an observation room, the renovation project will result in a room where “acutely unwell psychiatric patients” can be safely placed for assessment and stabilization, said Northern Health official Eryn Collins.

It’s meant as a short stay addition to hospital services and patients could very well then be transported to longer stay psychiatric services, she said.

The project will include a second room from which patients can be observed.

There’s no start date yet for construction as the project is still in the detailed design stage, Collins said.

“From there we would move into procurement,” Collins continued in emphasizing the project has been approved for the 2019-2020 financial year.

The anticipated cost, listed at $991,000, is to be financed 60 per cent by the Northern Health Authority’s capital works program and 40 per cent by regional taxpayers through the North West Regional Hospital District.

“It will be built largely within the footprint of the ER department,” Collins said.

The secure room will contain acoustic material so that it is soundproof and be built of material that can withstand heavy use.

“This is not just a room that can be built of four walls. It will come under the Mental Health Act and there are specific standards that need to be met,” Collins said.

Such a room was not within the design scope of the combined hospital and health centre when opened in 2008 but the need for one has now been recognized, she added.

The combined hospital/health centre has four acute care beds, four long term care beds, primary care facilities, a lab and a small emergency room.

The addition of a secure space for psychiatric patients at the Northern Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre follows on significant improvements coming for regional psychiatric services.

While the current Seven Sisters 20-bed longer stay mental health facility in Terrace is to be torn down to make way for a new Mills Memorial Hospital, it will be replaced by a new Seven Sisters and the bed count increased to 25.

And the new Mills will have 20 beds, up from the current 10, in its regional psychiatric unit.

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