In an effort to improve patient experience and care, the provincial government has made a gesture of $650,000 towards the Psychiatric Assessment Unit at the Waterford Hospital in St. John’s. Its Psychiatric Assessment Unit is the only dedicated emergency room for mental health issues in the province.

While that’s simply not enough money to alleviate the poor state of mental healthcare in our province, it is a $650,000 acknowledgement that deficiencies in the assessment unit must, as Health Minister John Haggie says, “be addressed, while we continue to work to replace the Waterford Hospital.”

Some of the money will be used to enlarge the space in a way that will enhance patient privacy and comfort, while making the place look and feel like a place of healing. This includes additional interview rooms, and an improved waiting area and registration/triage space.

The rest of the money will increase staffing, including the hiring of an additional registered nurse. The effort anticipates better patient flow through the unit, that balances the safety of patients, families, and staff, while increasing space for patients and staff that offers a more recovery-oriented experience.

Dan Goodyear is the CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association of NL. He says he hopes the Provincial Government will continue to take such steps toward the overall improvement of mental healthcare in NL, specifically based on consultations with people who have  lived experience or professional input on the matter.

Renovations are expected to begin in the coming weeks. The recruitment for an additional registered nurse will begin immediately.