More support for withdrawal management

·3 min read

A second $150,000 donation has put the $1.1-million fundraising goal for Chatham’s new withdrawal management unit within striking distance.

The Canadian Mental Health Association Lambton Kent stepped up with the cash last week, bringing the fundraising total to $900,000.

Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Board chair Alan Wildeman said the hospital is grateful to the agency for supporting the specialized unit.

“CKHA’s Withdrawal Management service will eliminate barriers for individuals who require treatment and ensures our community can receive this type of care closer to home,” Wildeman said at a press conference marking the announcement.

CMHA Lambton Kent board chair Becky Bellavance said the announcement was fitting coming on the eve of the organization’s 71st annual Mental Health Week.

Bellavance said support for the project was “unanimous” among board members.

“The people in Chatham-Kent need high-quality local services if we are to provide them with the best possible care,” she said.

Bellavance said the world has shifted during the pandemic, with “difficult and strange times” proving the need for more compassion and empathy for those around us.

“The establishment of a withdrawal management service right here in Chatham-Kent is the embodiment of that care, compassion and empathy,” Bellavance said. “We are so pleased to be partners with you.”

Withdrawal management unit clinical supervisor Stephanie DiVito, who is the outpatient clinical supervisor of the addiction and mental health services at CKHA, said front-line addiction workers are feeling a sense of relief the unit is coming to fruition.

“Addiction does not discriminate,” DiVito told the gathering. “And I know that most of us have been touched by the despair that addiction can create.

When she first heard the withdrawal management unit was coming, DiVito said she too felt relief.

“I have stood with individuals motivated to make a change, who have taken one of the most difficult steps of reaching out for help and have had to tell them there is no bed, or that transportation is an issue or that they need to leave a community that they’re comfortable in to access services,” DiVito noted. “It has been amazing to see the excitement and hope that the announcement of this service has created to anyone I’ve spoken to who has experienced the throes of addiction.”

The withdrawal management service has been operating three beds on an interim basis, with the completion of the 10-bed facility slated for June 30.

Previously, local residents would have to travel to Sarnia, London or Windsor to get help.

CKHA’s 10-bed withdrawal management unit will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the hospital’s former outpatient mental health services building.

The hospital’s Rapid Access to Addiction Medicine Clinic will also relocate to the site once renovations are complete.

The unit will assist people struggling with substance use that could include illegal drugs, prescription drugs and alcohol.

The CMHA Lambton Kent donation comes on the heels of $150,000 commitment from the United Way of Chatham-Kent the previous week.

Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Chatham Voice

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