A long-awaited six-bed mental-health unit for the Labrador Health Centre in Happy Valley-Goose Bay is expected to be completed by 2022.
On June 12, the provincial government issued a press release, saying a $426,000 contract for design of the six-bed facility was awarded to Fougere Menchenton Architecture Incorporated.
“The new unit will include services that are inclusive and culturally appropriate for all Labradorians,” states the press release.
Mental health advocates in central Labrador were pleased to hear the announcement. Jackie Compton Hobbs, a Happy Valley-Goose Bay town councillor and a member of the local mental-health coalition, says the new facility is much needed.
“I knew there needed to be better services for people with mental health and addictions in this area,” said Compton Hobbs.
“Some people were going in for mental health and addictions issues and were being held in the emergency room for days, which was taking up a bed from other patients and obviously they weren’t getting the right services they needed.
“This six-bed facility will only improve mental health and addictions; it’s a step in the right direction for sure.”
Lake Melville MHA Perry Trimper is hoping fewer Labradorians will have to travel outside of Labrador to get in-patient mental health care.
“People sometimes have to leave the province, or certainly leave Labrador, for intensive treatment… that’s always, of course, a frustration,” said Trimper.
“We’re hoping that a six-bed wing will alleviate travel for as many of those types of patients as possible.”
John Haggie, Minister of Health and Community Services, says most mental health and addictions patients don’t require inpatient treatment, but having beds is important for those who need the extra care.
“The in-patient beds are not a last resort, but an area of care that’s not the first line for the majority of people with mental health or addictions issues,” said Haggie.
"Our emphasis is to make mental wellness and mental health very much a community thing, where people are looked after, if not in their own homes, then in their communities and as close to home as possible.”
Haggie says the type of care patients receive at the six-bed unit, and how long they stay, will be determined by physicians on a case-by-case basis. He also notes mental health and addictions patients will be able to access a range of services, including walk-in appointments and one-on-one counselling sessions.
“There will be a suite of options available for any individual who has a mental health or addictions issues,” said Haggie.
According to Haggie, Labrador Grenfell Health has recently recruited a psychiatrist to fill a position in Labrador.