Vision Credit Union CEO Steve Friend, left, presents $150,000 to Cyndi Matthews, senior development officer with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation and community liaison Cliff Denham.
By Murray Green
Vision Credit Union believes in helping the Stollery Children’s Hospital in a big way. The Camrose-based banking institution recently donated $150,000 to go towards the Stollery Child and Youth Mental Health in the Emergency Department Campaign.
“We are expanding child and youth mental health care through the Stollery Emergency Department. This campaign is supporting the creation of integrated child and youth mental health services. Due to a variety of historical reasons, the presence of child and adolescent mental health services at the Stollery site has been limited to a very small Consultation Liaison (CL) Team. This has created a lack of coordination and collaboration between pediatrics and child psychiatry/mental health. This has negatively affected patient care for those attending the emergency department and for those children and youth receiving services from the Stollery Children’s Hospital,” explained Cyndi Matthews, senior development officer with the Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation.
Currently, 2,500 children and youth attend the Stollery emergency department per year, and 500 to 600 could be diverted from the emergency department to the newly established walk-in clinic per year. About 1,200 new children and youth could be seen in the new urgent follow-up clinic per year.
“There are currently over 2,100 initial calls per year to the Children’s Mental Health Crisis Phone Line, plus 2,000 follow-up calls. Fifty to 100 youth per year are admitted to a Stollery inpatient bed for medical care after an attempted suicide, overdose or serious self-harm. These children would (in the new model) be seen by a psychiatry, mental health therapist and/or social worker.
“The integrated child and youth mental health services will create a 24/7 integrated mental health/psychiatry team by increasing the number of child and adolescent psychiatrists and other mental health professionals based at the Stollery on a regular basis. Secondly, it will renovate and expand to create additional space that will support full functions of the integrated team including clinic and therapy rooms, offices and workstations for physicians and staff,” added Cyndi.
“The Stollery Children’s Hospital Foundation has committed a total of $6.4 million over a four-year period. Year one, the projected cost is $500,000 to $600,000. Hiring will begin this fall to staff the 24/7 care within the Stollery’s emergency department. Once the space within Walter C. McKenzie is determined to build the new clinic, therapy rooms, offices and workstations, the capital component of the project will begin.”
Donor investments are vital in expanding round-the-clock mental health support to children, youth, and families within the Stollery emergency department. The Stollery will be able to create integrated mental health services within the emergency department, boost helpline support to be 24/7, along with a separate walk-in clinic space to help to increase timely access to an expert team of nurses, social workers, therapists, and child and adolescent psychiatrists.
When families are in crisis, the emergency department at the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton is often the first place they go. “Whether it’s a physical or mental health crisis, the need and urgency are the same. The reality is that navigating this complex health system can be a challenge for parents and families,” said Cyndi.
The stress and worry that comes from seeing a child in pain from extreme psychological distress, ranging from depression, extreme anxiety and trauma, to extreme aggression, self-harm and thoughts of suicide, can be frightening and overwhelming. Especially when you consider that 70 per cent of mental health problems begin in childhood and adolescence; mental health affects one in two Canadians by age 40; and half of those with chronic disorders show symptoms by age 14.
“To help close some of the gaps that exist when it comes to accessing vital child and adolescent mental health care, we have launched a five-year, $6.5 million fundraising campaign to bring integrated, clinical mental health services to the Stollery emergency department. This expanded care model will eventually deliver round-the-clock, expert pediatric mental health services in the moment of crisis and will include specialized bedside support for kids and adolescents who present with mental health concerns.”
In order for mental health service providers to get a firm understanding of the type of care required, they must meet directly with children and youth and their family members. “The emergency room is not an ideal location. Hospital emergency teams want to provide quieter, calmer and more private alternatives for those patients and families who don’t require immediate medical attention: comprehensive assessments, potential treatment and connections to various community services,” said Cyndi.
The Stollery emergency department currently responds to as many as 2,300 adolescent mental health concerns a year. To further address this need and to help reduce current wait times, therapists and nurses will provide patients and families with 24/7 access to clinical emergency mental health services at the Stollery emergency department and through a crisis phone line service.
The on-site walk-in clinic at the Walter C. Mackenzie Stollery site is available for children and youth who present as low risk as an alternative to waiting for an emergency department assessment.
Unique to northern Alberta, the Stollery emergency department will have highly-trained child psychiatrists, therapists, nurses and social workers working alongside emergency physicians and clinical support staff to provide mental health examinations and risk assessments.
A specialized team will work with patients and families after a suicide attempt to make sure children and youth have access to available community supports before being discharged.
It gives the ability to attract and retain future generations of skilled child and adolescent psychiatrists and mental health experts. It also gives parents choices. Providing families with options will make sure children and youth are getting the right types of emergency mental health services at the right time. When a parent walks through the doors of the Stollery emergency department, pediatric mental health experts will provide a range of options based on how that child is presenting, resulting in shorter wait times; proper assessment; and improved access and connections to additional pediatric mental health care services.
“Our community donors and our partners at Alberta Health Services tell us that child and youth mental health remains a top priority at the Stollery Children’s Hospital. Donor investments are vital in expanding round-the-clock mental health support to children, youth, and families. In response to the growing need and increased urgency–and through the support of our generous donors–we are committed to completing this important project within five years as part of the Stollery Children’s Hospital’s approved list of urgent funding priorities,” concluded Cyndi.
To learn more about current intake services, contact central intake/assessment services at 780-342-2701, which provide a single intake service for child and adolescent community mental health clinics across the Edmonton zone.
To learn more about the investments in mental health programs and services at the Stollery, to donate or to make a major gift donation, contact Cyndi Matthews at 780-989-7495 or firstname.lastname@example.org